Another bogus attack by Media Matters

John Lott by John Lott on April 27th, 2012

This is article 170 of 558 in the topic Gun Rights

Just a couple of days ago, Media Matters had another list of false claims and I responded to their list here.  Now Media Matters attacks an op-ed that I had at the New York Daily News.  After David Brock’s, the founder of Media Matters, hypocrisy in having Media Matters constantly attacking gun ownership while at the same time illegally having handguns publicly carried for his own self defense in Washington, DC, his organization continues its “do as I say, not as I do” policy.  It is too bad that in the past Media Matters has refused to let me post responses on their website.

Media Matters’ piece has a new list of claims:

1) “”Call them what you will: ‘Stand Your Ground’ or ‘Castle Doctrine’ laws.” In doing so, he is grouping together two laws that are in fact radically different – this faulty conflation is at the center of his entire argument.”

The difference between ‘Stand Your Ground’ and ‘Castle Doctrine’ laws is over where they apply, not what the rule is.  Both laws remove the duty to retreat.  Castle Doctrine laws apply to attacks within ones home as well as sometimes on ones property.  Once you step off your property and onto the sidewalk Stand Your Ground laws apply.  The principle of whether one has to retreat is the core of this debate so I have a hard time understanding how these laws are “radically different.”

2) “For example, Lott later claims that ‘In states adopting Stand Your Ground and Castle Doctrine laws from 1977 to 2005, murder rates fell by 9% and overall violent crime by 11%.’ But ‘Stand Your Ground’ largely was not implemented until after 2005, making his point meaningless.  But “Stand Your Ground” largely was not implemented until after 2005, making his point meaningless.”  [Emphasis added.]

I didn’t say that I had studied all states that had ever adopted these laws.  I made it clear in both my research and the New York Daily News article what period of time over which the laws were adopted was studied.  Despite the spin that Media Matters puts on it, their point “largely” is completely consistent with what I did.  In addition, Media Matters is wrong about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law: the laws was enacted on October 1, 2005, which is within the 1977 to 2005 period.  A complete list of the state laws was provided in the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010, p. 332).

3) “”Castle Doctrine” typically refers to the codification of centuries old common law stating that an individual owes no duty to retreat to an invader of his or her domicile.”

Media Matters misstates the common law on the duty to retreat.  In State v. Redmond, the Washington State Supreme Court pointed out: “The law is well settled that there is no duty to retreat when a person is assaulted in a place where he or she has a right to be.”  This obviously extends well beyond just inside the home.  In the same case, the court noted: “Redmond’s right to be in the Lindbergh High School parking lot is not disputed.”

4) “While Lott would like his readers to believe that “Stand Your Ground” is a mainstay of American legal tradition . . . “

My New York Daily News  piece makes it clear that the laws had changed over time: “Earlier statutes affirmatively required potential victims to retreat as much as possible before using deadly force to protect themselves.”

5) “Actually states that did require duty to retreat largely did so only under the narrow circumstance where the victim could do so safely.”

My piece clearly stated that the requirement to retreat “sometimes putting their lives in jeopardy.”  The problem that arises is a practical one: whether a prosecutor agrees with the victim over whether they had retreated far enough.  As I wrote in National Review Online: “a prosecutor might argue that a victim didn’t retreat sufficiently. There have been many cases where victims have been chased and knocked down a couple of times before firing in self-defense, and yet prosecutors claimed that the victim still could have done more to retreat before firing their gun.”  Again, I point to the third edition of More Guns, Less Crime (University of Chicago Press, 2010) for examples of this.

6) “Lott’s dubious legal analysis continues with the statement, “The supposedly infamous laws passed in Florida and elsewhere, in contrast, use a ‘reasonable person’ standard for determining when it is proper to defend oneself — requiring that a reasonable person would believe that another individual intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death on them.” Of course what Lott fails to mention is that the elimination of the duty to retreat often means that “Stand Your Ground” confrontations end with only one surviving witness to attest to the reasonableness of using deadly force: the shooter himself.”

How is this different from any murder case?  In the Zimmerman case not only is there a lot of forensic evidence (wounds to the back of Zimmerman’s head, broken nose, grass on his back, wetness on his back, and I am sure other pieces after the crime labs have been able to examine the evidence) but there are also several witnesses.

Despite Media Matters founder David Brock illegally using guns for his personal protection, here is the point that Media Matters obviously won’t accept applying to others: these laws are set up so that law-abiding good citizens who wouldn’t carry a gun unless then were legally able to do so can protect themselves and keep from being killed.

7) “In Florida there were 43 cases of justifiable homicide in 2005.  By 2009, the last year that complete figures were available, the number had risen to 105.  The very data cited by Lott confirms this trend is mirrored nationwide. But while Lott criticizes the media for implying causality between “Stand Your Ground” laws and rise in justifiable homicides, at no point does he provide his own theory about what is really behind the uptick. . . .”

Since Media Matters assumes that its readers won’t actually read what I have written, let me quote from my piece: “But part of that increase is just a trick of numbers; it occurs because the laws have reclassified what is considered ‘self-defense,’ not because more people are being shot.”  in addition, I also note: “Curiously, though, this went unnoticed: Over the same period of time, there has been an increase in justifiable killings by police. And there are no similar data problems here, no changing definitions or large changes in jurisdictions reporting. Between 2000 and 2010, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports show that justifiable police killings rose by 25%, rising to 387 from 309, suggesting that something else is occurring.”  How is Media Matters then accurate to claim: “at no point does he provide his own theory about what is really behind the uptick.”

8) “John Lott’s methodology is simple.  Develop a conclusion, and then invent whatever legal or statistical justifications are needed to reach it.  At this point, it is shocking that anyone outside of the National Rifle Association gives any credence to his claims.”

Really?  After all their errors in post after post that they put up, this is their name calling response?  Because of having to learn the hard way, I have made a screen shot of their existing webpage before I put up my critique.

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