The AFN has now published two rebuttals to a guest comment by AZ PASS Chair Ellen Davis following the Zimmerman verdict in Florida. Ms. Davis asked us if we wanted a society in which aggressive gun-toting people get to shoot the rest of us without a fear of legal consequence?

Two members of our community decided that Davis was way off base to ask that question in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.

They contended that stand your ground (“SYG”) laws were not relevant to that case and that such laws are necessary for individuals to be able to defend themselves in public places. One of the respondents also noted that gun control does not work anyway citing Chicago as the place with the tightest gun laws and the highest murder rate in the country. That respondent also pointed out that the use of guns to save lives in circumstances of self-defense happens all the time but goes unreported and so we should all be thankful because a private citizen with a gun might save our life someday.

These points presented in opposition to Davis questioning SYG laws’ empowerment of aggressive and violent people who may choose to use guns to intimidate and, well, decide to kill anyone they find “threatening” are not useful to find ways to reduce gun violence.

First of all, SYG was relevant to the Zimmerman case. The instructions to the jury regarding Zimmerman’s duty to retreat if possible (and it was very possible in that case since the 911 operator told him to do so) were very different than they would have been without the SYG law. Before SYG, the jury would have had to consider if he had taken the opportunity not to be involved in the confrontation in the first place. After SYG, the jury could not take that into account. So SYG is completely relevant to the case, even if not invoked by the defense.

Chicago. Let’s set the record straight about Chicago. While the city has specific ordinances, Illinois generally does not have the most restrictive gun laws in the America. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence ranked nine states higher in terms of gun law strength. Chicago does not have the highest murder rate in the country. New Orleans has the highest murder rate in the U.S. Atlanta, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis and Miami all had higher murder rates than Chicago in the latest year of comparable data (2011). Chicago was not even in the top 15 of major metropolitan areas on this score. Please also consider that more than half of all crime guns traced by Chicago police originated in other states with laxer gun laws than Illinois. And by the way, California’s gun laws have led to a sharp drop in gun murders in that state. So let’s focus on the laxer gun laws in states like Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana and Missouri rather than Chicago and Illinois when this argument is being put forward by the gun lobby and their supporters.

Finally, there is no hard evidence to back the argument that private citizens use guns all the time to save lives. Anecdotes are not hard evidence. There is hard evidence though to document that guns in the home are far more likely to lead to the injury or death of a member of that household or a friendly visitor than the death or injury of a dangerous intruder. Ask your doctor or your children’s or grandchildren’s pediatrician what their professional associations recommend about having a gun in the home.

It is a truly strange thing that some, thankfully only a loud minority, in Ahwatukee seem to love their guns more than other people. They should seriously rethink that … their gun is statistically much more likely to injure or kill someone they love than it is to save any of their neighbors’ lives. And that is a hard truth.

• Ahwatukee resident Bryan L. Brinkley is secretary of Arizona People Acting for a Safer Society (AZ PASS). For more information, visit

(11) comments



I am not sure you are qualified to make the statement about the jury instructions, only the Judge was. And the defense was presented as a self defense action. While the national press and people like you have blamed SYG laws as a way to stir up everyone, in this case SYG simply did not apply. Self defense is a god given right. Just ask any Mother what she would do if someone tried to harm her child.

I can provide example after example of hard evidence to back the argument that private citizens use guns all the time to save lives. No problem.

As for Chicago, you just pulled a classic 'anti' on that one. 'If you can't argue the point, change the subject'! We are not talking about Illinois, we are talking about Chicago.

Hammers and blunt objects cause more deaths in this country than firearms. (FBI statistics for 2011) Maybe you should be 'focusing' on the objects that 'actually kill most' instead of changing the subject.


Speaking of...



Thanks for your thoughts, although I obviously disagree.

The SYG law in Florida did indeed change the nature of the instruction to the Zimmerman case jury compared to before it was in place. Sorry for your argument, but that is an undeniable fact. By the way, a mother defending her child is not self-defense. I miss your point. Plus I am sure a mother would use all means possible to remove her child fro danger, not court it by instigating a confrontation. So again your attempted point is off base.

Regarding Chicago, I am sorry that you could not read my article very well. I clearly demonstrated that Chicago does not have the highest gun-related murder rate in the country, which was the contention of the gun lobby supporter I referenced.

By bringing up hammers and blunt objects (I guess by "blunt objects" you do not mean reckless and violent gun owners) perhaps you are using the "change the subject" tactic of which you accused me.

Have a nice day.




I would suggest too that if you are going to change the subject to deaths from hammers and blunt objects, please educate yourself as to your talking point. You should refer to rifles not all firearms, because 8,583 people were killed by firearms in 2011. The misleading NRA talking point you've misquoted is that more people were killed by blunt objects (496) than by rifles (323) that year.

Continued best wishes.


"Chicago does not have the highest murder rate in the country. New Orleans has the highest murder rate in the U.S. Atlanta, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis and Miami all had higher murder rates than Chicago in the latest year of comparable data (2011)"

There seems to be a slight misunderstanding here. Chicago is horribly overhyped which I totally agree with (the big easy in particular is MILES higher), but it did have a higher murder rate than some of those cities in 2011. Courtesy of the latest FBI report released last year (for the year 2011) the figures are-

1. New Orleans 23.7
2. Memphis 10.6
3. Kansas City 7.9
4. St. Louis 7.6
5. CHICAGO 6.4
6. Miami 6.1
7. Atlanta 6.0
8. Cleveland 4.8
9. Cincinnati 4.6

Chicago has a higher murder rate than half of the mentioned cities which it's claimed to have a lower murder rate than.

One of the main Chicago papers also put Richmond above it [Richmond, VA - Richmond, CA is a suburb of a much larger city] and Montgomery. Richmond's murder rate during 2011 was 5.6 and Montgomery's 10.4. Again, half is higher and the other is lower.

All in all a mixed critique of Chicago's murder problem I feel. Thanks.


Thanks, Camirante. I used the Wikipedia reference to the 2011 FBI Crime Statistics which I think narrowed some of the "city" definitions instead of using the "metro area" statistical definitions. In any case, it is clear that Chicago DOES NOT have the country's highest murder rate as the gun lobby supporter contended. It is clear that some cities in states with laxer gun laws have much higher incidences of homicide. That was my point.

You can see the gun lobby supporter's statement in the letter called "Shame on Ms. Davis." I quote it here:

"Look no further than the failed experiment called Chicago. The city with the most restrictive gun laws has the highest murder rate in the country. Go figure. I haven’t heard a good explanation on that stat."

The good explanation is that her statement is false. But I guess she will not accept that explanation[smile]


Obama is from Chicago, the NRA uses Chicago to equate Obama to any discussion of preventing gun violence because they know their base doesn't like him.

The NRA has been rolling in the dough for six years telling their membership that Obama is coming for their guns, be afraid! And as a lobbying group they've been outstanding at selling lots of ammo and over-priced AR's with the same message.

The fact that Obama hasn't actually put up a new gun law in the last five years is lost on the gun-fetish folks, who try not to let facts get in the way of their Patriotic outrage about imaginary things.


Mr. Brinkley,

Will you now be in support of knife control?

The propensity of the human being to inflict acts of violence on his fellow man is the real problem, not guns, which are just a tool. I've never seen a gun kill anyone... oh maybe in some sci-fi move where the guns became possessed, got down off the wall, loaded themselves, and went on a rampage (kind of like the trucks and other motorized vehicles in "Maximum Overdrive", if you've ever seen that flick). Yes, it's an old and possibly even trite cliche, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people", but it has some truth. Violence has been gong on almost forever, from the day Cain killed Abel (with a club I believe), or if you're not religious, since the first caveman got ticked off enough at his neighbor to take his life.

Regardless of what tool you take away, such as guns, violent men will find some other tool to take its place.


So Cain killed Abel and we're not supposed to learn something from that?

We're just supposed to say, "oh well, folks is folks, going shoot each other now and again, nothing we can do. Time for Wheel. That Pat Sajack is such a nice young fella'."

How about we change the cliche to:

Guns don't kill people, people WITH guns kill people. Or, people with guns loaded with 50 caliber rounds kill people.

Or better yet, how about we stop trying to reduce complex problems down to bumper sticker slogans and actually have a real grown up discussion?


JC, Chet is right. Knives, baseball bats, etc are straw men. Bringing them up is no more relevant to the gun debate than are Big Macs (plenty of us die from heart disease).

Guns make it much more easy to kill quickly and in higher quantities. Just compare the knife attack on Chinese school children that happened the same day as the gun attack on US school children in Newtown last year.

Gun suicides are much, much more likely to be successful than suicides by any other means.

Some 30,000+ Americans die every year from gunshots and tens of thousands more are disabled by gunshot wounds.

Bats, knives, hammers, etc cause nowhere near as much human damage (maybe in the single digit thousands combined each year).

So please come up with a better line of reasoning than the straw man argument.

Clearly guns are the tool of choice for killing other people or for suicide, so they represent a specific problem that should be dealt with in a reasonable way.


Whoops, Brinkley couldn't support his gun control comments so now he is supporting Obamacare. I can't wait!!!! My next article to come.

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