3/22/12, No. 27

@Jaxonpool _______


Stand and deliver: It is fitting that the Florida’s legislature passed the “Stand-and-Deliver” law—anyone can see the state is shaped like a handgun.

The Gunshine State

However, at first I was confused about the name of this law, so I looked up stand and deliver in the Oxford English Dictionary, and it said it was an imperative, “a command to come to a halt, e.g. as a sentry’s challenge, . . . a highwayman’s order to his victim.” It was first used in 1513 and was last used in a Sir Walter Scott novel in 1821. Shakespeare employed the phrase. It’s good to know that our legislators have such flair when naming legislation.

I assume that this Florida law empowers citizens to use firearms when ordering fellow citizens to “Stand and deliver,” that is, to stand completely still and turn over all the goods in their pockets. When a citizen is ordering a fellow citizen to stand and deliver, the person doing the ordering rightly fears that deadly force might be used in response. Therefore, the citizen doing the ordering has every right to use deadly force to defend himself. This makes sense. After all, his own life may be threatened when he is trying to hold up someone. According to news reports, several drug dealers have found this law a useful defense at their trials.

Perhaps I should explain this further. Once the person who has received the order to ‘stand and deliver’ has been shot (so that he cannot use force against the person robbing him), the shooter can claim he acted in self defense. Which in a sense is true. Right? Just because you are robbing someone does not mean you do not fear you might get killed while doing it. After all, robbing people is a dangerous line of work. So you may have to shoot the victim of your robbery attempt in order to defend yourself. And the dead man won’t be alive to contest the claim. “By shooting him, I was only defending myself from what he might have done to me once he realized I was robbing him at gunpoint.” This was a wise, well-crafted law..

This is the same law that is helping George Zimmerman do what he needed to do. . . .

Wait . . . what’s that you say? . . . I have the name wrong? . . . It’s “stand your ground,” not “stand and deliver”? Opps! Oh, well. My bad!

But what’s in a name, anyway. A law by any other name would work the same. George Zimmerman was the self-appointed head of a neighborhood watch committee, of which he was the only member. There had been several burglaries in the gated community, and black kids had been implicated. One day he sees Trayvon Martin in the neighborhood, so he follows him, thinking he might be one of the kids involved in the break-ins. Martin thinks he’s being stalked by a crazy white man. Zimmerman makes Martin fear for his life. Finally, Martin ‘stands his ground‘ and attacks Zimmerman. Finding himself attacked, and also ‘standing his ground,’ the latter shoots the former.

It’s ‘stand your ground’ vs. ‘stand your ground.’ Unfortunately, only one has a gun.

None of this would have happened if Zimmerman had just said, “stand and deliver,” and Martin had turned over his Skittles. If this case is any indicator, maybe we should go back to “stand and deliver” and forget about “stand your ground.”

Dr. Tristan Voltaire, Ph.D.

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