You Know Anti-Self-Defense Crowd Is Lying When They Generalize "Homicide"

As I’ve written about several times in the last few weeks, Ohio is considering adopting several badly changes to its self-defense laws. One of the provisions that had been under consideration, but had apparently been dropped in the mistaken hopes that doing so would induce Governor Kasich to sign the proposed self-defense changes, was stand-your-ground: relieving folks who otherwise lawfully defend themselves from also having a legal duty to retreat before they could use defensive force against an unlawful attack upon themselves or their families.

Instead, Kasich (featured image) vetoed the bill anyway, and now OH is hoping their legislature can override that veto.

Perhaps surprisingly, two of the most powerful groups opposed to stand-your-ground are law enforcement and prosecutors. Law enforcement, naturally, is free from any duty to retreat based on the nature of the performance of their duties. Prosecutors, naturally, want as many cards in the deck on their side as possible, and being able to compel a legal duty to retreat on a defendant provides prosecutors with an additional path to conviction.

As is so often the case, of course, those who are opposed to lawful self-defense are unable to make their case on the merits, and thus have to resort to propagandistic tools like conflation, obfuscation, and misdirection. One of the most common methods of misdirection in the context of opposing stand-your-ground is to argue that the adoption of stand-your-ground in other states has led to an increase in homicides.

Homicides are horrible, right, so who would want more of those? If homicides increased, that must mean stand-your-ground leads to a bad outcome. Bad, bad, BAD stand-your-ground law!

I observed a cascade of precisely this misdirection in a letter to the editor of sorts written by a Matthew Matthew T. Mangino, who is described as “of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly and George and the former district attorney for Lawrence County, Pa.” Mangino writes, in opposing the adoption of stand-your-ground in Ohio:

Research published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that stand your ground increased homicide rates.

Soon after the law took effect in Florida, there was a sudden and sustained 24 percent jump in the monthly homicide rate – the rate of homicides caused by firearms increased by 32 percent.

An investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, a Florida newspaper, found that the rate of homicides declared justifiable tripled in the five years after the passage of stand your ground.

Here’s why this is misdirection and conflation, and thus nothing more than propaganda: it conflates “homicide” with “murder,” as if the two were synonyms. They are most definitely not.

“Murder” is the unlawful killing of one person by another. “Murder” is indeed a bad thing, and if stand-your-ground could be demonstrated to result in increased murders we would be justified in seriously questioning its adoption.

“Homicide,” in contrast, merely means the killing of one person by another, and does not necessarily connote unlawful conduct on the part of the killer. Not all killings are unlawful, particularly not killings committed in lawful self-defense. Killings committed in lawful self-defense are certainly “homicides”—one person killed another—but they are not “murders” because they are not unlawful killings, they are legally justified killings.

Every police officer who lawfully kills an armed felony in progress has committed a homicide—but has not committed a crime, and arguably has committed a social good. Every intended rape victim who kills their attempted rapist has committed a homicide—but has not committed a crime, and arguably has committed a social good. Every parent who kills the attempted kidnapper of their small child has committed a homicide—but has not committed a crime, and arguably has committed a social good

Those arguing that stand-your-ground should be rejected because its adoption has resulted in an increase in “homicides” are necessarily lumping together all the lawful killings committed in lawful defense of innocent people with the unlawful killings—the “murders”—committed by violent criminal predators.

Indeed, for all we know every single one of the “increased homicides” that were purportedly “caused” by stand-your-ground was in fact a lawful act of self-defense, the alternative to which would have been a murdered or maimed or raped or kidnapped innocent victim.

To put it another way, those arguing against stand-your-ground on the basis that it’s adoption led to increased homicides are necessarily arguing that stand-your-ground should be rejected on precisely because it led to more innocent people defending themselves against deadly force threats.

How very humane and kind of them, no?

And if the best attorney you can find for yourself is the sort that makes the kind legal arguments purportedly put forth by Counselor Mangino in this letter to the editor—well, try again.

—Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca

Law of Self Defense LLC

Andrew BrancaComment