To the editor,
In reading the letter to the editor “Gun bills bad news for Minnesota communities” (found here) in last edition of the newspaper by Barbara Brooks, I was taken aback by some of her opinions, without fact, that were being shared in order to create a very anxious narrative.
Firstly, Ms. Brooks drew an equivalence between the Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine and racism. Whether, veiled as she likens it or not, this argument does not hold up.
Dr. John R. Lott Jr., of the Crime Prevention Research Center, testified in committee using factual research which he also shared in the Star Tribune. “About 64 percent of blacks raising the Stand Your Ground defense were acquitted, compared with 60 percent of whites.” The facts show that people of color would actually benefit from this law more than whites. Additionally, Lott’s research from all states that enacted Stand Your Ground between 1977 and 2012 shows that, “On average, murder rates fell by about 1.5 percent annually during the first 10 years that the law was in effect.”
Ms. Brooks claimed that “Trayvon Martin’s killer successfully used this defense,” referring to Stand Your Ground. This too is false. In the Zimmerman case, Stand Your Ground was not used by the defendant.
Instead, he argued basic self defense law because in Florida, there is no “duty to retreat” and the victim may “stand his or her ground” when firing in self defense. Splitting legal hairs perhaps, or was Ms. Brooks continuing to drive a narrative of racism. It should be pointed out, Zimmerman was not white, but of color himself.
Perhaps the most concerning of the false narrative that Ms. Brooks was trying to illustrate was the slippery slope of the Constitutional Carry bill that would legalize the carry of firearms by law-abiding Minnesota residents of legal age. She posits, “If the law passes, there is the possibility that the number of school shootings may increase.” How absurd. In the states where Constitutional Carry has become law, there has been no correlation between Constitutional Carry and increased gun violence in schools.
So without even getting into an argument regarding her opinion that, “Sometimes we need to give up individual rights in the interest of public safety and the common good.” I would like to remind Ms. Brooks of a very prophetic excerpt of a letter Ben Franklin wrote in in 1755. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.
So fortunately for Ms. Brooks, neither of these bills were included in the 2017 Public Safety Omnibus Bill and neither will become law this year. Unfortunately though, for the person of color who is unequally targeted and would benefit most from a Stand Your Ground law, or the person who is forced by law to retreat within their own home to the furthest point possible and then warn their attacker of their intention to shoot, or the citizen of Minnesota who has to pay what is equivalent to a tax and be approved by law enforcement in order to exercise a Constitutional right, they will have to continue to sacrifice their safety in hope that in the next session, these bills will become law.