Amateur Square Badges and Deadly Force

Sadly, the Trayvon Martin case is becoming a national Rorschach Test in which we’ll all choose up sides before the facts are firmly established (and yes, I fully understand that one side tried pretty hard to cover up the facts from the get-go by quashing any investigation). But I hope we can maintain some focus on the underlying issue of conceal-carry and Stand Your Ground laws, and the underlying philosophy of preferring a heavily armed citizenry encouraged to use deadly force to fight crime instead of adequately funded police departments exercising a state monopoly on sanctioned violence.

I’m not a big fan of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but I’m happy he’s being so outspoken about this aspect of the case:

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law which allows those who feel threatened to use deadly force against a would be attacker is counterproductive to keeping members of the community safe.

“It doesn’t make any sense because you don’t want people being vigilantes,” Bloomberg said in an interview with “CBS This Morning” when he was asked about the law that has come under fire in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin.

“They don’t have the training. They don’t have the expertise. There is no oversight. That is the police department’s job,” Bloomberg said.

Yes, citizens can play an important role in helping police departments maintain public security–but not by serving as a self-appointed posse members. It’s good to see the mayor of a city that has made some pretty significant progress against violent crime come right out and say so.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.