Let’s acknowledge from the beginning that there are no grounds to believe that Florida’s “stand your ground” law can be blamed for the events leading up to the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin.
George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch fanatic who shot Martin, may have had no idea that Florida even had such a law. And even if he did know, that knowledge might not have changed his behavior in any way. The only thing we know for certain is that Sanford police cited the law in explaining why they lacked probable cause to arrest Zimmerman.
So setting aside the Martin tragedy, what possible purpose does a “stand your ground” law serve in the first place? What good can it possibly achieve, particularly when implemented outside the home?
Dealing with an intruder inside the home is quite a different matter. And every person of course has the right to defend themselves and others from bodily harm. That right existed before passage of “stand your ground” laws around the country; it exists today in states that did not pass “stand your ground” laws.
We’re dealing instead with something very different than mere self-defense. “Stand your ground” laws state that if an armed person faces a choice between safely withdrawing from a scene or standing his or her ground and killing someone, that person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force,” as Florida law puts it.
That’s what I don’t get. I understand that there are macho fools out there who believe that backing down from a fight is a worse outcome than shooting and killing another person. I just don’t see why in a civilized country the law should validate and even encourage that mentality.
– Jay Bookman