The Daily Rundown | May 01, 2012
>>> task force meets today. back into this battle over whether the law protects citizens or gives citizens a right to kill. governor has formed his own group to look into the law and released these recommendations including giving law enforcement more leeway to inspect. the plan includes a grand jury review for every stand your ground case and a system that tracks cases in which people use it. currently that doesn't exist in florida. opponents point to fbi figures that show the number of justifiable homicides have risen from 1,116 to 1,304 between 2006 and 2010 . supporters of the law point to statistics that show since 2006 the year 14 states joined the state of florida that the violent crime rate had fallen more than 13%. the national murder rate was down almost 15%. supporters say they believe there is a connection between the new laws and drop in violent crime . the assumption of more hands means less crime is overly simp bli alistic. new york mayor says it is about the gun lobbying and the nra .
>> in reality the nra 's leaders weren't interested in public safety . they were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands and face no consequences for it. let's call that by its real name, vigilanteism.
>> joining me now is economist, john lot, the author of a book, "more guns less crime" a lot of interest from people on this law. let me start with your response to mayor bloomberg that these laws simply encourage vigilanteism.
>> i have heard the mayor describe them as shoot first laws. nothing to be further from the truth. you have to understand where the laws were before. before people had to retreat as far as possible before they could act in self defense . this setup was a reasonable person standard that if a reasonable person would feel that you were seriously threatened and in serious risk of serious injury or death then you could use appropriate force and respond. it is not to decide for yourself.
>> but inherrant in this argument is let's look at the trayvon martin case . there is only one living witness .
>> that's true in almost all murders.
>> and so using the stand your ground you can't interview a dead person who cannot sit there and tell you their side of the story and find out whether george zimmerman used an appropriate force or not.
>> that's like saying we can't get convictions on any murders. we might as well give up in murders in general. we have lots of forensic evidence and witnesses who saw it from the side. this is not something that law enforcement has an unusual case in front of them. what i will say is no matter whose story is right the stand your ground law is not relevant to the george zimmerman , trayvon martin case . if george zimmerman is right that the wounds on the back of his head, that he was on the ground, trayvon martin was on top of him beating him, there was no place for him to retreat. and so the old defense even if he had the rule that you have to retreat as far as possible he still would have been able to act in self defense there. if the other side is right that somehow george zimmerman provoked the attack, attacked martin to begin with then he wouldn't be able to rely on the stand your ground law to protect him in that case either. the stand your ground law doesn't allow you provoke and attack, doesn't allow you to throw the first punch or shoot somebody in the back. you have to pass this reasonable person test that you are in direct threat, serious injury or death was going to occur.
>> here is what i don't understand about this law. it strikes me as a law that is a solution in search of a problem. it was not a wide spread problem here of suddenly people feeling as if they were walking the streets and because of the way, the role the nra played in getting the rules passed. it was a law intended to justify gun ownership .
>> you should read "more guns less crime" because the third edition has lots of examples where we had problems before. these laws didn't arise in a vacuum. one case is a 67-year-old man. he pulls into a grocery store parking lot . a robber knocks him down. the 67-year-old man tries to run away . he gets knocked down a second time. tries to run away a third time and gets punched and knocked down a third time. at that point he fatally shoots the robber. the prosecutor said he still could have done more. he could have run away further and took him to trial. there is no prison involved there. he got probation. here you are talking about somebody having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in defense. the thing is you have those types of examples in state after state that it occurs.
>> where is this an epidemic? i mean, you can find one or two examples and i understand the one the florida law was based on following a hurricane. what is to prevent stand your ground from being used as the basis to deal with some sort of gunfight between two people that own guns legally who have an argument?
>> if you have somebody that just goes and commits murder then it is handled like any other murder case. i can't just claim stand your ground and say fine and walk away . in the vast majority of cases you use the gun in public you are going to be arrested. that is virtually always the case unless the police are completely sure about what happens.
>> do you think some parts of stand your ground in the state of florida to basically not allow a judge to deny somebody who is using the stand your ground defense to deny a jury from getting that person in front of a jury? do you think that part needs refining?
>> it is up to the prosecutor whether or not to bring the case. if you think they are ready to bring the cases i suppose. look at this case. this prosecutor didn't go to the grand jury . you were talking about safe guards that were there. there was a reason the prosecutor didn't go to the grand jury . you know the old story about prosecutors could indict a ham sandwich . the reason why they didn't do it is when you read the affidavit there are huge holes in theav affidavit. they don't deal with the police report and the witnesses that indicated that martin was on top.
>> we are finding out that the law enforcement officials believe that stand your ground was going to be used and there was no way around it.
>> i don't see how that is relevant. explain to me the logic there. there were others that didn't think it had anything to do with it. if zimmerman attacked martin or provoked him it wouldn't be relevant. it martin was on top of zimmerman there is no place to retreat. whether you have stand your ground or the previous standard would make no difference. how is this relevant to the debate. gun control proponents have latched on to this because they think they can use this. what it tells you is how few problems have occurred with this law. we have had 41 states that have either castle doctrines or stand your ground laws. another six have rules involving common law type things. yet we have like in the new book we show people have concealed hand gun permits. there are like no problems. this is the one they have to try to latch on to.
>> i have to leave it there. i am running up against a hard break. we'll