The tragic shooting death of Florida black teenager Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman clearly illustrates the "grey areas" harbored within "Stand Your Ground" gun laws.
Stand Your Ground gun laws allow individuals to legally use a gun in self-defense if they feel sufficiently threatened by another individual. Critics of these Stand Your Ground laws often call them "Shoot First, Explain Later" laws and for good reasons. In the Trayvon Martin case, the prosecution failed to prove its case, but all this case did was raise more questions concerning Stand Your Ground laws.
- Is it lawful or even right for any person to pursue or follow another person simply because he believes the other person is suspicious looking and he believes that person is likely to commit a crime?
- Wouldn't you feel threatened if you were being followed or pursued by a stranger? There was no evidence that Martin had committed a crime. Trayvon was not in possession of burlary tools or carrying stolen property. Trayvon Martin was unarmed. He was walking back home along the same path he always took when returning from the store.
- Didn't Trayvon Martin have a right to stand his ground and question George Zimmerman as to the reason why he was being pursued?
- Did George Zimmerman violate Trayvon Martin's civil rights by profiling him based on the color of his skin? In voice recording that Zimmerman made with the 911 operator, there is strong evidence to suggest that Zimmerman clearly believed that blacks are troublemakers because they wear "black hoodies," always come out "late at night" and always "get away" with crimes they commit. This was clearly a case of violating an individuals civil rights based on racial profiling.
- Don't Stand Your Ground laws have the potential to create needless confrontations because the individual armed with a gun feels enpowered to contront someone else based on assumptions they make about that person that maybe entirely wrong? The result is almost a "wild west" mentality. What I am saying is simply this -- Why go looking for trouble, or create a needless confrontation, when you don't have to, especially when there are no substantial reasons or evidence to do so. Isn't it better and safer to leave this matter in the hands of the local police?
Comparison of justifiable homicides in states with "stand your ground" laws before and after the stand your ground laws were passed. Notice that more people were killed after the laws were passed. This is clear evidence that stand your ground laws empower gun owners to kill rather than avoid confrontations (Click Image To Enlarge)
The State of Florida vs George Zimmerman case clearly shows the difficulty of convicting an individual for murder in a Stand Your Ground case in the absence of witnesses. In fact, several jurors who voted George Zimmerman not guilty of murder, said that the Florida's Stand Your Ground laws needed changes to protect the victim as well. Trayvon Martin is the only person who knows what actually happened that night. Unfortunately, Trayvon Martin is dead. He is not around to provide his side of the story, and because of this, we will never truly know what happened that night over a year ago when an unarmed young man was simply walking home from the store.
Checkout this infographic created by the Huffington Post to determine if your state has Stand Your Ground laws in force.
Courtesy of an article dated July 18, 2013 appearing in Visual.ly