“Stand Your Ground”

The 17 year old boy went out to get a bag of Skittles for his brother and a can of ice tea for himself. He was heading back from the store after the sun had gone down. Meanwhile, the self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch was driving down the road when he spotted the boy. For reasons he still has not explained, the man became suspicious of the boy and began following the boy from his car. He called the police and informed them that he was following a suspicious person. The police told him that there were officers on the way and that he didn’t have to follow the person.

After that police call we don’t know what took place until phone calls began coming in to the police about gunshots being fired in the neighborhood. What we do know is that the man driving the car was carrying a gun, at some point he got out of his car and approached the boy and that the boy was shot and killed by the man.

The shooting of Treyvon Martin is in the forefront of the news for weeks. The fact that George Zimmerman, the shooter, was referred to as white in initial news reports and the fact that Martin was black added to the outrage due to racial tension. With 73% of Americans calling for the prosecution of George Zimmerman, it seems insane that he is not in jail already. However, due to one single law, Gerge Zimmerman will likely never see the inside of prison walls for his crime against a boy and his family.

I would like to preface my explanation of the “Stand Your Ground” law with the understanding that there is nothing I would rather see than George Zimmerman getting a life sentence for the death of Treyvon Martin. I will now explain why that will likely not happen.

In 2011 the Florida legislature added statutes to “Justifiable use of Force”. These new rules, which came in under what has been called the “Stand Your Ground Law” Removes any obligation by an individual to remove themselves from a potentially volatile situation before it becomes violent. The law authorizes the use of deadly force in situations of home invasion and if a person “reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”

The second part is the real issue in this case. All George Zimmerman needs to say is that he was acting in self-defense, and then any prosecution against him has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not acting in self-defense. This is the highest burden of proof known to law and in this case there were two witnesses to the situation which led to Zimmerman shooting Martin, and one of them is dead.

But despite the perfectly reasonable public outcry for Zimmerman to be prosecuted, it is likely he won’t be thanks to the law. The statute stipulates that any person protected under this law are immune from prosecution. The law is worded so that people like Zimmerman cannot be arrested, detained, or charged for what he did.

The only possible chance the prosecution could have would be to argue that by getting out of his vehicle and approaching Treyvon, that Zimmerman initially provoked any force that was used against him. However, the “Stand Your Ground” law still states that even if Zimmerman provoked the situation, he can still use deadly force if he thinks his life was in danger, which Zimmerman can simply say it was.

The prosecution has to choose one of two options in this case. Either they don’t prosecute, or they do and lose the case anyway. Either way, George Zimmerman walks free.

If not for the “Stand Your Ground Law” then it would be relatively simple to prosecute Zimmerman for 2nd degree murder or manslaughter. However, with this law, there is almost a legal prodding for people to go around like cowboys with guns on their hips and settle disputes with gunfire. Consider a situation where two men with guns get into an argument and they both know the “stand your ground law” both know that the other can shoot them and claim self defense, so both have a reasonable fear for their life and well-being. Both have a right to shoot first. This is literally a modern day, and completely legal, duel.

I’m not trying to assert that this NRA backed law was created so that people could just take the law into their own hands, it just happened to be the result. The NRA didn’t plan for this law to be used to shoot innocent black people, it’s pure coincidence that the NRA was formed the same year the U.S. Government listed the KKK as an official terrorist organization. And I’m not saying that this law was created so that anyone can shoot anyone anytime if they simply claim they thought it was reasonable, that’s just what happened.

The only real justice that can legally come from the shooting of Treyvon Martin is a repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law. If this controversy dies down without the removal of this law, then you can be sure that it will just be used again and again as an excuse for trigger-happy morons so that they can go back to their normal gun-slinging lives without fear of any consequences after killing an innocent.


4 responses to ““Stand Your Ground”

  1. I actually think there’s a third option you didn’t explore, and that is the prosecution’s capacity to argue that to a reasonable person, Zimmerman should NOT have perceived his life was in danger. Zimmerman was significantly larger than Martin, meaning Martin would have literally needed to be more-or-less a trained killer to put Zimmerman’s life in significant risk. Additionally, Martin did not have anything on his person that again, to a reasonable person, could even faintly look like the bulge of a weapon in his pocket. An Arizona Iced Tea is too large for almost every pocket, and a bag of Skittles sits too limply. Zimmerman, again, to a reasonable person, was not justified even to think his life was at risk.

    I think it’ll be harder to find an impartial jury than it will be to try Zimmerman. At least to me, it seems pretty easy to discredit Zimmerman and as soon as he is no longer credible, claiming self-defense no longer works (since the idea would be to paint the idea that Zimmerman was committing perjury).

    • That’s a great point, especially in regards to a partial jury. However, in court, Zimmerman does not have to take the stand and even explain himself. The defense can claim self-defense, and then just hammer on reasonable doubt with the physical evidence and investigation (which was somewhat shoddy) until the end of the trial. The result would likely be another Casey Anthony situation: where everyone knows who is guilty, but the jury can’t legally find him guilty.

  2. Under present law, the only justice Treyvon Martin’s family can realize is the repeal of the “Stand Your Ground” law. A repeal may prevent the future senseless slaughter of innocents in Florida.
    As for Zimmerman, the news said that his friends report that they didn’t know him to be a racist. However the press didn’t ask his friends if Zimmerman had delusions of being Charles Bronson in “Death Wish”, or Clint Eastwood in “Dirty Harry”.

  3. George Zimmerman is a pig and a liar! It sickens me that this fat ass monster shot and killed a child in cold blood, and now gets to taint the young mans good name by portraying him as some sort of monster. On what planet could this kid of over powered Zimmerman’s gigantic body, George Zimmerman deserves to first rot in prison and then rot in hell! I pray to God this man is found guilty and that this “stand your ground” nonsense is overturned. RIP Trayvon Martin you were taken from this earth far to soon.

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