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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Trayvon Martin murder case will boil down to one claim known by mothers everywhere.

“He started it!”

Every parent with more than one child has heard that cry. When their little one points his or her finger accusingly at a sibling, claiming to have been provoked into the tussle or name-calling, a wise parent responds with, “Well, why did you react?”

George Zimmerman will be asked if he instigated the altercation that led to him shooting to death the unarmed Trayvon, for which Zimmerman now faces the charge of second-degree murder.

The basis of Zimmerman’s defense is that, fearing for his life, he believed he was justified to shoot and kill.

The jury, being chosen now, will decide.

Zimmerman waived his right for a hearing to exculpate himself under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, although his lawyer has suggested that he may attempt to invoke the law if he is found guilty in his impending trial.

These laws need to be better understood for their implications for a civil society. Since Florida became the first state to pass the so-called Stand Your Ground law in 2005, about 30 other states have followed suit with some form of these laws.

Most states have the Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use deadly force, without the expectation to retreat, when threatened in their own home.

What the Stand Your Ground laws do is broaden the right to kill without retreating, even when it is possible, to other places, such as a workplace or a car.

Prior to the spread of these new laws, people were expected to back down, to retreat, if possible. Shoot First, Stand Your Ground, Make My Day laws can make it legal to refuse to walk away.

More research is needed into the effects of these laws. However, the evidence available now should trouble anyone who thinks laws should make society safer, rather than promoting violence.

One point is made repeatedly by David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center: “Firearms are used far more often to frighten and intimidate than they are used in self-defense.”

People are confused about what constitutes self-defense. What many people term self-defense is really just the last act in an argument gone out of control, a situation that escalates until one or both parties reach for a gun.

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33 responses to “Stand Your Ground Laws A Shaky Basis For Justice”

  1. tdm3624 says:

    I can’t speak for the other state’s laws, but I like the ones in my state. Why should I have to retreat from a place I have a legal right to be? After all, I’m not the one with the intent of committing a crime.

    • idamag says:

      Because the stand-your-ground laws are making murder legal. If someone shoots your loved one because that someone perceived a threat you wouldn’t like it.

      • tdm3624 says:

        If my loved one was being threatening and attempting to commit a crime they would deserve it. 😉

        • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh says:

          Ask yourself this, though. Was it through your actions that your loved one was being threatened?
          If you are going about your business and someone comes up to you with a gun threatening your life (assuming he is not a law enforcement officer), then “Stand Your Ground” works. I don’t care if it is where you work, where you live, where you go to Church, or if you are just driving your car to the store. You have been threatened. You can defend yourself. I would do the same exact thing.

          However, if you go out of your way to go through an area where you do not have a reasonable expectation of personal safety, then it looks more like you are trying to invite someone to invade your personal safety just to prove you can use “Stand Your Ground” as a defense. This will end up one of two ways – either you or someone else will be dead. And if it is you who die, the other person can always claim “Stand Your Ground” for their defense, too.

          Unfortunately with Zimmerman’s case, there were no witnesses to actually prove his statement about being threatened. We do know he was told by the police dispatcher to stand down, but something happened that caused him to ignore that order. I wasn’t there. You weren’t there. All we have is his word what happened.
          If he is believable, he will be acquitted, especially as the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show without reasonable doubt that Zimmerman is guilty of something. Personally, I don’t think they can do so. This trial will either be declared a mistrial due to a hung jury, or he will be acquitted. However, I do believe regardless of the outcome of this trial he will end up facing a “Wrongful Death” suit brought by Martin’s parents. That probably will result in finding against him, as the burden of proof is significantly lower, and the court does not have to pay attention to “Stand Your Ground” as a defense.

          • idamag says:

            And since he is already carrying a gun it will be hard to prove he was not being threatening. Those Paranoid stand your ground laws leave too much up to perception.

          • glorybe2 says:

            It simply makes no difference. If I walk around with a pile of one hundred dollar bills hanging from my mouth in the worst ghetto in the world no one has the right to mug me, steal from me or assault me. Tempted or provoked do nothing in relation to stand your ground laws.

            What would have created a serious issue is if Zimmerman had simply said no comment to the responding cops. If he never said one word they still have no cause to detain or arrest him. He did not have to give an excuse.

        • idamag says:

          They don’t have to be threatening. They just have to be perceived as a threat. They might only be returning from the store with a can of ice tea and a bag of skittles.

          • neeceoooo says:

            You’re right idamag, the key word in that is “perceived” threat.

          • glorybe2 says:

            The stand your ground law contains “a reasonable person” in relation to perceiving a threat. It also does permit baiting in a way. for example if someone is making fun of you or embarrassing you you have no right to make any physical threat at all. So if somebody gets loud and asks if that is your wife or a wart hog and what is that mess that you call a child and you ball up your fist you could be gunned down. The idea that martin was provoked does not alter the law one bit. That is why this trial is so wrong. It is a show trial wrongly held at Mr. Zimmerman’s expense.

          • glorybe2 says:

            There is no debate that Martin was in front yards, back yards and side yards in the rain and in the dark as well. That is menacing. He was also only a few steps from exiting the community but turned and walked back in towards the center of the community more than once or at least once. As Zimmerman’s police call indicated Martin was behaving oddly, as if he were on drugs. These days so many young people take bizarre substances who knows? For all we know he could have just huffed bath salts or some other unlikely form of dope.

      • glorybe2 says:

        Threats can be very real. Threats are a tool by bullies. If you want to keep people from being violated then you support laws that stop bullies. The home that Martin was spotted at, standing in the lawn, in total darkness had been burglarized by a black teen a few months earlier. Not only was that burglar caught but another black, teen burglar was caught thirty days prior to the incident attempting yet another burglary of the same home.

        It gets better. Martin was very close to the exit of the complex. He could have walked out in seconds but kept walking back towards the center of the complex then turning around and heading the opposite way again. He had an agenda in wanting to burglarize homes in that complex. Would you have me believe that on a dark night in the rain this guy wanted a soda and Scittles so badly that he was taking longs walks in the rain? A savage criminal was gunned down.

    • gmccpa says:

      The law seems flawed because its difficult to know which party is ‘standing their ground’. And especially this case…where the guy with the gun AND the car is the one making the claim.

    • glorybe2 says:

      Before stand your ground in Fl. you actually were required to run from your own home to avoid shooting a burglar unless escape was impossible. People in Florida were repulsed and deliberately made it quite easy to kill and it was not by accident.

      • tdm3624 says:

        I didn’t know that. How many years has this law been in place?

        • glorybe2 says:

          The laws in Florida have been changing over the last three years or so. For example violence was illegal simply to protect property in Florida. If you were in your own home you were required to escape if possible rather than defend the home or your loved ones. If a loved one was trapped and could not escape force was allowed. If you were walking towards your car and a mugger grabbed your wallet or packages violence was not allowed. If you were wedged in between the open car door and could not retreat you could use force. Criminals had a field day with this nonsense.
          Now it would not matter if a twelve year old grabbed your wallet and ran. You could gun him down if you clearly were unable to run and catch him. If someone is stealing the wheels off of your car you could kill them. Texas is unlike Florida. In Texas there could be questions about whether you could afford the loss or whether the loss would severely punish you if you were rich and the theft were on the trivial side.

          Frankly this is getting back to the way America was designed in the beginning. Reasonable behavior is no longer optional. It is not a racial issue. I honestly do not know if Mr. Zimmerman would have gone to the gun faster if Martin was white or Chinese. Many white people will cut a bit of slack for minority members as some of the acting out really is due to wrongs done in the past. Most people will give young people more slack as well. But slack is sort of a gift and one best not count on getting tat gift. For example some elderly people deeply resent all youth. Few people are aware of their prejudices or at least the depth of their prejudices. I define prejudice as worrying about what race or religion my daughter marries in to.

  2. docb says:

    It is an ALEC kockup Bros boilerplate law—nothing good can come from that!

  3. montanabill says:

    Apparently you have already determined that Zimmerman’s accounting of events is untrue. But just suppose it is true and he pulled his gun and fired only at the point that a large person was sitting on his chest hitting him and slamming his head down. Even if you think it was wrong for him to have questioned why Trayvon was in the area, was it wrong for Zimmerman to do something to prevent further injury to himself when he was being beaten? Put yourself in that position. Do you take a chance that a stranger won’t kill you and just take the beating?
    Another factor to keep in mind, what might you suspect is the reason for lots of gated neighborhoods in the Orlando metro area? Feel free to be politically incorrect.

  4. charleo1 says:

    The problem with stand your ground, is barring any witnesses, the winner
    can be exonerated by the fact he is the only one capable of testifying. This is
    why the Zimmerman case, in my opinion, is going to be a very uphill job for the
    State. When not fighting to make sure criminals have a clear path to obtaining
    a gun. The NRA presents Southern Yahoo Legislatures, like the one in Florida.
    With laws, like stand your ground. So, they not only make buying a gun, and
    carrying a gun, in more places than than ever before. It makes getting away
    with murdering someone with a gun easier. To show what complete idiots
    we’ve got in State Government. They opened up the Capital Building last year!
    Now, they’ve all got these little red panic buttons installed in their offices.

    • glorybe2 says:

      I watched the opening arguments for the Zimmerman trial. There is plenty of evidence that Zimmerman was not guilty already. The entire trial is a travesty of justice. A court room is not the place to decide whether a crime took place or not. When police are convinced that a crime took place and they feel that guilt is a certainty then is the time to make an arrest. Cops on the scene determined that no crime took place.
      Zimmerman was attacked. The nature of the attack was felonious. If he had no used that gun he would be a dead man or brain injured at the very least. Martin was in peoples’ front yards as well as back yards and was not walking along the street. Martin also walked forward to attack. Bashing a man’s head into concrete is not a mistake by an innocent. It is attempted murder,mayhem and deserving of lethal force. If Martin had survived a minimum 30 year prison sentence would have been called for.

      • charleo1 says:

        I gotta tell you, we do not have many agreements, you and I,
        on this case. We do not look at in the same way. However, I do
        see the State’s hand as being forced, or coerced to bring charges. Because of the perception by the African American communities,
        and by a fair number of noted leaders in their community, that Mr. Zimmerman had received special treatment by the Sanford Police
        on the night of the incident. And, there were also apparent, or perceived anomalies, surrounding the unusual length of time in obtaining the coroner’s autopsy report. But, this could be of no consequence. Because, this did not happen in Miami. But in a
        rather small rural town. So, if we set aside any major blunders
        by the Police, or Coroner, that has not been reported, and only
        comes to light in the trial. The movements of both Martin, and
        Zimmerman have been established as near as can be, given
        there are no witnesses. But the State’s toughest problems
        to convict, with no reasonable doubt, begins at the moment,
        these two subjects meet. And, without witness, I don’t see
        how they establish George Zimmerman acted any way, that
        would not fall within the wide boundaries of Stand Your Ground.

        • glorybe2 says:

          To convict Mr. Zimmerman the jury would have to totally violate the stand your ground law. Google the Florida statute and read it. One section applies perfectly to this case. There is no obligation to avoid confrontation or modify a potentially violent clash at all. It used to be next to impossible to defend oneself in Florida. Now it is quite easy. Like it or not it is the current law.

          • charleo1 says:

            Stand your ground, like it or not? I would choose not. Here’s
            why. First, the law is ambiguous. And the Zimmerman case
            is an excellent example of why this law should be more
            specific as to how it determines, which antagonist owns the
            “ground,” from which they have no obligation to retreat.
            As in this case, both Zimmerman, and Marten, had legitimate
            reasons to be, where the altercation took place. So, it is here
            the case aganist Zimmerman is the strongest. In that he pursued Martin. And if he doesn’t do that, all that followed,
            including the killing of Martin, doesn’t happen. So one question for the jury is, can the instigator, which Zimmerman clearly was, be held harmless, because he was in fear for
            his life, in an encounter he precipitated? In other words,
            who’s ground was it? The pursuer, or Travon Martin, who
            occupied the, “ground,” he’s entitled to stand on? Secondly,
            the law calls for Police investigating the incident, or a jury,
            to pass judgement as to the inner workings of the mind, of
            the individual in question. Could he, or she reasonably be
            expected to be in fear for their life? And, it is here the law
            opens itself up to all manner of speculation. As every person
            has the Rights of self defense. But, where self defense ends,
            and unavoidable confrontation occurs, the law doesn’t say.
            So, say you’re out taking a nice walk. Say, I don’t like the
            cut of your jib, and demand to know where you live. You
            turn, run, and I catch you. At which point you start in kicking
            my rear end. I then realize, since I am armed, you could
            knock me out, take my gun, and shoot me. So I take a
            step back, and shoot, and kill you, because I, at that moment,
            was in fear of losing my life. As a juror, what say you?

          • glorybe2 says:

            Antagonist is not a relevant term. Pursued connotes different meanings than “kept an eye on” or followed. The issue is the attack. Once a fist is balled up and a person steps forward with an angry gaze or posture the use of deadly force is permitted. If Zimmerman had been mocking Martin’s race, his mother, or his color there still would be zero justification for throwing a punch, I know people can’t seem to get that point but violence is not a reasonable response to be annoyed or insulted. But the law as it stands allows deadly force if a reasonable person has fear of great harm or death. Martin had height, athletic ability and youth and from such a person one punch can kill. I follow boxing and have seen five men, all in good health, killed in the ring. That despite gloves, rules and a referee at arms length and doctors at ringside. The only reasonable belief is that a punch from Martin could kill or permanently harm Zimmerman. If Zimmerman were some sort of racial hate freak he would have shot well before the first punch landed and would still have met the law.

          • glorybe2 says:

            How is it that you can defend being in someones front yard, back yard and side yard at night in the rain? We are not talking about someone on a sidewalk or on a street. He was trespassing. Mr. Zimmerman followed at a distance. he did not confront, interrupt or challenge Martin in any way. Martin did not like being watched and initiated an attack.

            I watched hours of testimony from the so-called witnesses for the prosecution today. They were a disaster.

            This is a show trial and nothing more at all. It should not even deserve to go to the jury and the judge should direct an acquittal and Mr. Zimmerman should sue for this wicked and twisted misuse of the justice system. This is a mockery of justice.

    • glorybe2 says:

      Exonerated is the wrong term. An incident occurs. Cops write it up and that is it. Charges should not be filed unless real proof exists. That is why the Zimmerman prosecution is such a travesty.

      The other point is that it would not mattered one bit if Zimmerman was taunting, offending, or insulting Martin. Physical fighting is not allowable as a response to simply being angry. The crime took place when Martin stepped forward with a fighting expression or posture and the second felony took place when the first punch was thrown. That is the very intention of the stand your ground law. If you ball up your fist and scream I’m going to knock your block off you can be gunned down. The law is not ambiguous. The law might cover more than what the law makers intended but it is the law of the land in Florida.

  5. STAND YOUR GROUND is a good Law for Law abiding people.
    Zimmerman used it to commit murder.
    He & his attornies are trying to confuse the issues, Zimmerman murdered that kid & that he is still walking around loose is an affront to all Law abiding citizens.

    • glorybe2 says:

      That is twisted. No murder took place. I will be blunt at the risk of saying something that sort of can’t be said. A segment of disadvantaged minority groups considers a period of wild behavior a somewhat normal part of growing up. They consider it forgivable and do not want to confront the wrongs that are done. Sometimes it is called black rage and a response to injustices. And that is true enough. But the people that are acted out against are not the cause of those injustices. That means that in a riot if someone tries to burn me out then there will be a pile of dead bodies in front of my store or home. That is justice for me. Lack of a firm response is the basic cause of all of this nonsense. Our courts need to throw the key away even for first time offenders who just might be teenagers.

  6. Allan Richardson says:

    I attended a press conference today to ask for background checks, and there were some peaceful pro-gun protesters there. Afterward, I asked one of them politely and privately, who was wearing a “Guns save lives” button, how many lives did George Zimmerman’s gun save? I expected him to say “his own” (which is what the trial is about), but he said “probably dozens, since he got Trayvon first.” Suppose that a black man carrying a gun saw a Klansman in his uniform, unarmed, going about his business peacefully, and provoked a fight, then shot the Klansman in cold blood. Would we accept his telling the press that “I saved a bunch of black lives because I got their future lyncher first?” Neither situation shows an open mind.

    From now on, when two drug dealers have a business dispute, and one shoots the other, who happened not to have brought his own gun, with no witnesses, the survivor can say “I THOUGHT he had a gun and was about to draw first,” and be acquitted for self defense. In fact, the victim could even have been an INNOCENT person who was MISTAKEN for a rival drug dealer. Either way, a gangster has no need to fear the law.

    • glorybe2 says:

      Being provoked does not enter into the issue. It would not matter one bit if Mr.Zimmerman was being as rude and ugly as he could possibly be. The tipping point is the assault. Assault is by posture, demeanor, facial expression or words an intention to do bodily harm or to deprive someone of their belongings.

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