The case of Renisha McBride has to date attracted surprisingly little coverage; with possibly upwards of 10,000 dead
in the Philippines not to mention the ongoing Syrian crisis
, there are bigger stories out there and lives still at risk. Nevertheless, it is surely newsworthy that in the land of the increasingly less free and a town of the apparently not so brave, a 19-year-old girl can be shot in the head and her killer left at large while the authorities mull over the reasonableness or otherwise of his actions.
Unfortunately, the victim is yet again black, and the perpetrator apparently white, so what little interest there has been has come from the usual suspects in addition of course to the family. Unsurprisingly, the case has been likened to that of Trayvon Martin, in fact it is nothing like it, rather it is far, far worse.
The confrontation between Martin and his killer George (Dirty Harry) Zimmerman was man on man, one to one. The story Zimmerman put forward was plausible, and there was evidence to support it. Whatever, the jury gave him the benefit of the doubt
, and that is the end of it.
The message of Martin-Zimmerman is that if two men get into a fight and one is getting the better of the other, the man on the bottom can take out his gun and shoot his "assailant". Bad though that is, the message of the current case is that if a grown man feels "threatened" by a lone and clearly unarmed 19-year-old girl, he can shoot her in the head and walk away claiming he was protecting himself and his property. This would have played out very differently in the UK, even for that tiny number of citizens who own firearms legitimately, like the farmer Tony Martin
Initial reports said the victim had been shot in the back of the head; it has now been confirmed that she was shot in the face
. The unknown shooter is said to have claimed his gun discharged accidentally, a claim the attorney
representing the victim's family said sounded "implausible".
Clearly a jury should decide just how implausible when considering the other things he could have done, like call the police, shout through the door, open a window to speak to her...
The Michigan stand your ground law reads
(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:
(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.
(b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.
(2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.
That sounds reasonable, but shooting an unarmed 19-year-old girl because she knocked on your front door — albeit at 2.30 a.m. — does not.
Reasonable or not, this law needs either to be overhauled or better still scrapped altogether. The authorities need too to act fast. On the facts so far released there is prima facie
evidence of at least manslaughter, probably second-degree murder and quite likely first-degree murder in this case. If they do, they might just send a message to those whose uncritical endorsement of America's insane gun culture
that those who shoot first and ask questions later will be held accountable for their criminal recklessness.