In a rare “scoop” for an editorial cartoonist today, Matt Bors skewered a little-known National Rifle Association (NRA) program that offers insurance to cover policy holders’ costs should they become embroiled in a legal battle after shooting someone in self-defense.
The insurance — technically endorsed by the NRA and administered by Lockton Affinity exclusively for NRA members — is available as a rider to the “excess personal liability” plan. Here’s how the website advertises the added coverage for self-defense (emphasis in the original):
• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.
• Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.
• Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.
The basic liability plan costs either $47 or $67 annually, for coverage up to $100,000 or $250,000, respectively. Though the coverage amounts stay the same, a policy holder can add the self-defense insurance by paying $118 or $165 for the lesser coverage, or between $187 and $254 for the larger plan. (The discrepancies are due to the different prices for coverage on two different webpages from the insurer.)
The simple truth is that what happened in Sanford, Florida, is a tragedy law cannot mend. It is a tragedy produced by our culture itself—a culture where racial divides and distrust remain as prevalent as they were when Rodney King, a black man, was beaten by white police officers in 1991, or when Abner Louima, another black man, was beaten and sodomized in 1997 by police officers in a Brooklyn police station. It is the culture itself that needs repair. Maybe putting George Zimmerman on trial will help accomplish that, but a better place to start would be with the Florida law. It’s a law that might well be innocuous or benign in a society truly marked by equality and trust. But in the society we actually have, a law that allows a human being to kill someone else even when no one’s life or safety is at risk is the legal equivalent of stoking a bonfire at a gas station.
George Zimmerman’s 2nd-Degree Murder Charge Fixes Nothing (via champagnecandy)
To accept Zimmerman’s version of events and relieve him of any culpability is to ignore Trayvon Martin’s right to walk from the 7-11 back to his place of residence unthreatened. To accept Zimmerman’s version ignores Trayvon Martin’s right to “stand his ground” and defend himself against the perceived threat of an older and larger man following him and questioning his right to be where he is.
What About Trayvon’s Right to Self-Defense? (via azspot)
Since the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Republican leaders have called the killing a tragedy but argue that the law in question did not actually apply to this case
Still, Schumer wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder on Sunday that the laws themselves should be investigated.
“These laws seem to be encouraging vigilantism by allowing individuals to use deadly force as a first resort,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement.
Schumer asked Holder’s department to probe whether the laws “are creating more violence than they are preventing,” and whether potential murders are “going unprosecuted” because of them.
“Self-defense is now used more widely than it was under the old law in the State of Florida,” said William Eddins, the state attorney in Pensacola and the president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association. “It is a very broad law in terms of the availability of the defendant to try to take advantage of this law. It has created more litigation for the state in cases involving violence and in murder cases, in particular.”
The state attorney in Tallahassee, Willie Meggs, who fought the (Stand your Ground) law when it was proposed, said: “The consequences of the law have been devastating around the state. It’s almost insane what we are having to deal with.”
It is increasingly used by gang members fighting gang members, drug dealers battling drug dealers and people involved in road rage encounters. Confrontations at a bar are also common: Someone looks at someone the wrong way or bothers someone’s girlfriend. The cases are sometimes successfully argued, and sometimes not.
…Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says that his organization tracks laws in 21 states that extend the self-defense doctrine beyond the home. The usual label for such laws — “stand your ground” — is politically charged, he said, suggesting that a more apt label would be “Shoot first, ask questions later.”
Laws like the one in Florida allow situations like the Trayvon Martin killing, he said. “We’re heartbroken, but we’re not surprised.”
Combining broader boundaries of self-protection while weakening gun-control laws and promoting the “paranoid mentality” that people need guns for self-protection is “a mentality that leads to tragedy,” he said.