Outrage is Rising, in Florida and Nationally, Against “Stand Your Ground”

  • submit to reddit

This article originally appeared in The Nation.


When Florida Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson issued the jury instructions in the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, those instructions declared that:

If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Though Zimmerman’s lawyers chose to mount a traditional self-defense argument on their client’s behalf—eschewing a defense specifically based on the controversial Florida law that permits individuals who feel threatened to use deadly force even when they could retreat to safety—the role played in the case by the “stand your ground” law, and the theory that underpins it, has come into stark relief in the days since Zimmerman was acquitted.

The judge’s instructions, and a juror’s referencing of “stand your ground” in her discussion of the deliberations, serve to highlight long-term concerns about laws that permit the use of deadly force even when violence might be averted.

Beezy Dinkins, of St. Petersburg, Fla., demonstrates in front of the Seminole County Courthouse while the jury deliberates in the trial of George Zimmerman, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Beezy Dinkins, of St. Petersburg, Fla., demonstrates in front of the Seminole County Courthouse while the jury deliberates in the trial of George Zimmerman, Friday, July 12, 2013, in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Civil rights groups have objected to “stand your ground” laws in Florida and dozens of other states in their responses to the Zimmerman verdict. So, too, have prominent figures such as musician Stevie Wonder, who announced Sunday that he would boycott “stand your ground” states. And on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder told the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention in Orlando that states must reconsider laws that contribute to ‘more violence than they prevent.”

Florida’s “stand your ground” law has from the beginning been a part of the controversy over the February 26, 2012, killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman was not charged for forty-four days following the shooting of the youth. Only after national protests led Florida Governor Rick Scott to appoint a special prosecutor was Zimmerman charged with second-degree murder.

Now, despite attempts by casual commentators to suggest that “stand your ground” was not a factor in this case, serious observers are coming to recognize the significance of this week’s observation by The Miami Herald that “Zimmerman waived his right to the Stand Your Ground immunity hearing, a pre-trial event that’s not spelled out in statute. But he was afforded the protections of Stand Your Ground, which is embedded in Florida’s self-defense laws. Its language, found in statute 766.012, was tailored to the Zimmerman trial’s jury instructions…”

At least one juror says that “stand your ground” considerations figured in the deliberations by a jury that was reportedly was divided over whether to convict Zimmerman.

Responding to a question about how the jurors reached their “not guilty” verdict—despite concerns regarding Zimmerman’s actions prior to the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin —the juror justified her decision by telling CNN’s Anderson Cooper, “Well, because of the heat of the moment and the Stand Your Ground. He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right.”

More than a year ago, initial protests over the killing of Trayvon Martin brought national attention to Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which was enacted in 2005—and to similar laws that the Center for Media and Democracy explains have been enacted in twenty-six states over the past decade, with prodding from the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Rifle Association. “Florida’s dangerous ‘shoot first’ law allowed Trayvon’s killer to walk free without charges for more than a month. ‘Shoot First’ legalizes vigilante homicide, has demonstrated racial bias in its application, and has led to an increase in gun-related deaths in the more than two dozen states where it has been passed into law,” argued Color of Change, as part of its campaign to strike down “stand your ground” laws in states across the country. “These laws give individual gun owners a greater right to shoot and kill than the rules of engagement for our military during times of war grant to soldiers in war zones. ‘Shoot First’ must be repealed now to protect families and communities and prevent senseless deaths.”

Now, with the controversy over the acquittal of Zimmerman, the Florida law has come back into focus, as have the laws in states across the country.

In his response to the Zimmerman verdict, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People President Benjamin Todd Jealous said: “We stand with Trayvon’s family and we are called to act. We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: “Sadly, all the facts in this tragic case will probably never be known. But one fact has long been crystal clear: ‘shoot-first’ laws like those in Florida can inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns. Such laws—drafted by gun lobby extremists in Washington—encourage deadly confrontations by enabling people to shoot first and argue ‘justifiable homicide’ later.”

Attorney General Holder picked up on that theme in his remarks to the NAACP Tuesday, saying:

Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation’s attention, it’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods. These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if—and the “if” is important—if no safe retreat is available.

But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety.

The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation; we must stand OUR ground to ensure—we must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.

A national “No More Stand Your Ground” petition drive has already attracted more than 50,000 signers.

The Seattle Times has editorialized that “the single best memorial to Trayvon Martin—Justice for Trayvon—is repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.”

The movement to repeal “stand your ground” laws is growing in the states. In Georgia, state Senate Democratic whip Vincent Fort has introduced legislation that would replace that state’s “stand your ground” law with new legislation requiring anyone with a gun to withdraw from a threatening circumstance before using deadly force. In New Hampshire, Democratic state Representative Steve Shurtleff has been working to overturn that state’s “stand your ground” law and he’s attracted the support of the Concord Monitor newspaper, which says, “New Hampshire’s law should be repealed before someone here is killed by a gunman intent on standing his ground when he could instead walk away from a fight. Many Americans have concluded that it was Zimmerman, not Martin who ‘got away,’ despite what the gunman said before the shooting. Making that less likely in the future is a cause we must all embrace.

In Florida, State Senator Geraldine Thompson of Orlando, D-Orlando, has renewed a push to overturn the original “Stand Your Ground” law, saying, “Florida has to fix this problem because Florida created this problem with the kind of law that we placed on the books, so we have to change the law or we are going to see more Trayvon Martins.” Members of the Dream Defenders group occupied Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office Tuesday, seeking a commitment from the governor to call a special session of the legislature to address the issue.

Stevie Wonder is on the side of their struggle.

“I decided today that until the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again,” the musician declared after the verdict was announced.

But Wonder, a veteran civil rights campaigner who played an instrumental role in establishing the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday, and who was an outspoken critic of apartheid during the era when international artists refused to play South Africa’s Sun City resort. went further. Recognizing that the fight against “stand your ground” is not just a Florida struggle, he added: “As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world.”


John Nichols is Washington correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin. His most recent book is The “S” Word: A Short History of an American Tradition. A co-founder of the media reform organization Free Press, Nichols is co-author with Robert W. McChesney of The Death and Life of American Journalism: The Media Revolution that Will Begin the World Again and Tragedy & Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy.
  • submit to reddit

BillMoyers.com encourages conversation and debate around issues, events and ideas related to content on Moyers & Company and the BillMoyers.com website.

  • The editorial staff reserves the right to take down comments it deems inappropriate.
  • Profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, off-topic posts, advertisements and spam will not be tolerated.
  • Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements, impersonate someone else, break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity.

If your comments consistently or intentionally make this community a less civil and enjoyable place to be, you and your comments will be excluded from it.

We need your help with this. If you feel a post is not in line with the comment policy, please flag it so that we can take a look. Comments and questions about our policy are welcome. Please send an email to feedback@billmoyers.com

Find out more about BillMoyers.com's privacy policy and terms of service.

  • Jane Christmas

    The tragic death of Trayvon Martin makes me think about the pledge I made when I took the oath of allegiance last week to become a US citizen. I will take up arms against the enemies of this country if I have to, but I will not carry a gun to protect myself from my fellow citizens – that just fosters a covert social war. It’s paranoid and it’s stupid.

  • Anonymous

    I suggest the organizations that have meetings or gatherings in various states, professional societies, businesses, social, whatever do their members a favor and avoid all states with stand your ground laws. Why subject your friends & colleagues to the danger from some cop wanna be or drunk thst starts whaling away with a gun.

  • I.S.

    Just because such laws are abusable by a few doesn’t mean we should take them away from all the countless decent citizens of society who can behave conscientiously.

    If you tell a decent, law-abiding citizen that he MUST tuck tail and run away any time some aggressive and violent criminal threatens him/her, you will be enabling such criminal behavior and neutering society’s ability to stand up to criminality.

    If you think that’s solely the role of the police, then society will continue to disintegrate into crime and chaos (see Chicago’s south side) because police are utterly incapable of that degree of responsiveness. They are understaffed and overly busy as it is already.

    Decent, conscientious citizens should be empowered to confront criminality, so long as they do so reasonably and constructively, without antagonizing or escalation. If during such a confrontation a criminal is so emotionally dysfunctional and/or drunk/drugged that they decide to get aggressively violent, it is on them if they are injured by a decent citizen defending him/herself.

    Stand Your Ground doesn’t permit a gun-carrying citizen to murder someone based on race or harsh language…only if there is an immediate violent threat that risks death or serious physical injury, just like with any other use of force under any circumstances. So if a criminal attacker is behaving in such a manner, we want to force that decent citizen into running away? Is a justifiable shooting such a terrible thing that we want to avoid it at all costs, even when that cost means enabling violent criminals to get away with such behavior? If so, society will continue to crumble.

    There are millions of righteous, conscientious, reasonable citizens all over this country who are capable of good judgment and judicious use of deadly force with the pistols that they are currently concealed-carrying. This has been going on for many years and it is not a problem to any significant statistical degree. Forcing them to run away any time a criminal says “BOO!” to them will manifest a society that will be all the more unlivable, because that actually empowers aggressively violent criminality. We are a nation that stands up to bullies. Stand Your Ground is what empowers that. Take it away and we’ll end up with a detached passivity where more and more people exodus to the suburbs while our inner cities turn into ‘failed-state’ war-zones.

  • Jeremy

    Can you do a report on when or how we lost the right to stand up and protect our family and property? I truly do not understand why anyone would want it to be illegal to defend yourself with deadly force if necessary. Do people really think if someone is attacking them in a park with there children they should run/call police and not do what ever it takes to protect there children and themselves even if you have to use deadly force?

  • Rep. Bob Elliott

    If Zimmerman was on the bottom having his head bashed on cement, do you think he could have retreated safely and successfully, …..seeing as the MAN on top of him was in much better physical shape than rotund Zimmerman was?? I don’t think the jury had any doubts about this, ….and they followed the law, whether we like it , or hate it,…they had to follow the law. And they did. Now it’s up to the 23 states to change that law, or not. Att.General Holder would have pressed civil rights charges against Zimmerman by now, since he’s been trying to press charges since March12th, 2012, ….if he had enough proof that Zimmerman was a racist,…..but he doesn’t, and can’t. NH has never had such a case, but it’s just a matter of time, and even if it’s white on white, a ” not guilty” verdict will still be hotly debated.

  • chucklesnhope

    Gun idolatry, paranoid fear of one’s countrymen, capitulation to a divisive culture (divide and conquer) have made victims of both Martin and Zimmerman, and innocent, inconsolable victims of Trayvon’s family and every young Black male in this country. Where are the Christian values we hear so much about? They do exist but aren’t being practiced. It’s fight or flight first, kill or be killed. Our country is gravely ill.

  • Pete Joachim

    And per FL law, Zimmerman is not responsible one iota for starting the sequence of events, antagonizing TM and then not showing his weapon, as any cop would have done, to prevent further physical confrontation? The context of the situation be dammed is what SYG laws say. I too believe the jury did what it they had to do given the laws of FL – but obviously the law needs to be changed or eliminated. It doesn’t matter if Zimm was racist or not, his actions we all wrong and in the end an unarmed teen is dead and apparently it was entirely his fault (how can that logically be the end result)?

  • Leopold Stotch

    Rep. Bob Elliott, no I don’t think at that point he could have retreated. But under the law prior to the Stand Your Ground, the point where he could have retreated becomes an issue. Under Stand Your Ground, retreat is not an issue.

    Without the protection of the Stand Your Ground laws, the Zimmerman trial would have been focused on deciding the point at which GZ should have or could had retreated — ie, sometime after GZ left his truck to follow TM.

    The insidiousness of Stand Your Ground is that the winner (survivor) of the gunfight is more likely to walk free than before Stand Your Ground, regardless of traditional self defense doctrine. Ironically, had TM shot GZ rather than attack him with his fists, all TM had to do was claim he was reasonably afraid of GZ … and TM would have walked free.

  • Pete Joachim

    That is why we pay for a police force that is trained and understands the incredible decision it is to (a) pull your gun and (b) fire it. We ought to get them more help, more structure, more education, more pay. Put more value in the most important position in our culture – the first line of defense for a civilized society – our neighborhood police officer.

    The general public can buy a gun but we have no comfort they know how to handle it (or even if they were a former felon) and how to make life/death decisions, simply at the tug of a finger. I for one don’t want to live in a country where everyone gets to make that decision at the spur of the moment. My life, as are most others – is too valuable to be put at that kind of risk on a daily basis. We lived w/o SYG laws for most of our history – so don’t tell me we are “losing empowerment” by eliminating them. There are better ways to make life in this country less violent, less threatening, than just assuming there will always be a threatening person around every corner for which we must arm every citizen in the USA. Talk about a land w/no civilized conduct.

    Your idea is sending our country backwards – like most of human history – always resulting in mass deaths from war, violence and the destruction of civilized society. Lets try to think outside the box for once and move forward not backwards!

  • Jack Hammer

    If he wasn’t a gun toting cop wannabe stalking a unarmed 17 year old, still following him after being advised by a 911 operator told him NOT to do so, then he wouldn’t have found himself in such a position. And which George Zimmerman, now? I remember seeing a much thinner man than the “rotund” Zimmerman that was sitting in court. Actually, I read somewhere that he kept himself in pretty good shape as he was trying to get hired by a police department.
    But what we are discussing are “Stand Your Ground ” laws. Is it on purpose that you are still trying to argue a point that has already been settled in a court of law? What the article is about, if your eye holes in you robe allow you enough vision to read it is, how those laws will most likely encourage more shootings of this nature, where a gunman draws his victim into a conflict, shoots him claiming he was in fear for his life.
    He wasn’t standing his ground, he was impersonating a police officer at best, and your defense of him shows where you stand.

  • paul savage

    You cannot hire enough police to keep you safe from harm, we have amendments to the constitution that allow citizens to carry and keep you and your family safe. Hopefully, you will never need to live in anything but an upper middle class area. But remember your family’s safety is your responsibility, the police carry guns to protect themselves. Good luck

  • paul savage

    Jane, people in this country have been carrying for a very long time….no one forces someone to carry

  • Ray’s Rants

    Are you aware that more Blacks use the “STAND YOUR GROUND DEFENCE”, than any other race in Florida?

  • Arthur Brooks

    George Zimmerman consider himself a decent and responsible citizen that’s why he was on a self-conducted patrol.

    All states have laws on the books that extenuating circumstances allows the use of force (deadly) by anybody. Legal gun packers and otherwise.

    A friend of mine before the licence to carry became law use to pick up his cocktail waitress wife every night at closing. He would stick his head in the door to let her know he was outside.

    One night as he turned around a group of six drunks started in on him. They were threatening and urging him to fight. Since his car was near the door he didn’t have far to walk.

    Once inside they surrounded the car and the taunting continued. He reached under his seat and pulled out a 45 cocked it and said, “I don’t want any trouble”.

    Their response? They turned and left mumbling.

  • Anonymous

    As I understand it, ALEC is a corporatist think-tank and law making machine. But why in the world are corporations pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws so vigorously when everyone can see how insane they are? What are the theories of the rationale? Is it just to sell more guns? Or do corporatists want the great unwashed shooting each other over property? I just don’t get it and worry that the rationale for such madness is worse than I can imagine.

  • Sheila Short-Ritter

    Ok, in my opinion those involved in ANY shooting should be arrested and THEN be able to explain to a judge why the other person was shot unless it’s an obvious break in or robbery. This stand your ground law is good IN SPIRIT but without law enforcement stepping up and doing their job FULLY, it’s no wonder so many are getting way with murder.

  • Sarabeth

    Your scenario, a thug attacking your picnic and bothering your family, is extremely paranoid. This has never happened to me in the seven states where I’ve lived with my family including NYC and Chicago. You have clearly embraced gun-lobby myths (i.e., marketing) that brainwash you into believing thugs are attacking picnics or want to. Come back to reality please. Your belief that shooting him is the ideal outcome is sick and twisted.

  • richard stotts

    wrong !!!! TM would have been arrested immediately. And a proper forensic exam would have happened.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s largely to sell more guns while public services — law enforcement and prisons — are either being defunded or outsourced to private enterprise. My more cynical nature suggests these laws are designed to create more social chaos. When I add the push to defund education, private prisons, the drug war, it gives me pause. I don’t know what was wrong with self-defense laws before SYG. It seems these laws were passed just under the radar. Few of us knew about these laws before Trayvon Martin but there has been other abuses.

  • jan

    Stand Your Ground = How to commit murder legally and without fear of punishment.

  • AparadoxisOK

    Here is the way to shut down all of these right to carry laws: What if all of the adult, 18 years and older, blacks and Hispanics, and
    other minorities showed up at the gun stores buying up all of the guns
    that they could get their hands onto, and then they all took the
    concealed weapons courses! They would scare the hell out of folks! But, then they to could go loaded for white bear
    in public, day or night. I do think that the gun rights lobby would
    surely be changing its tune quickly! The right to carry laws would come crashing down, you can count on it!

  • Rainy

    Far more blacks have used this law than white.

  • Sterling Wilson

    Your analogy is false. The bully cowboy could not have used the Stand your Ground law. He was not in a life-threatening situation for which he had no means of escape. This contrasts severely with Zimmerman’s situation where he had no means of escape while another person was criminally pounding his head against the pavement while on top of him—thus removing his ability to flee. Zimmerman therefore had and always will have the right to protect his life. As do I. And as do you. It’s a natural right that no law can mitigate.

  • AparadoxisOK

    LOL! You are writing your own outcome to the story, we will let the 6 woman jury decide. If I remember right, Shane got in a heckuva lot of punches in that fight and in today’s world, his final fist to the already downed cowboy would have been the same as the Z. It is NOT a false analogy. Also, the cowboy would have claimed the Z defense if it were the law of the day back then, and he would have gotten the same kind of jury that the Z got, especially if Shane had been black. But if the cowboy had been black, he wouldn’t even have had the jury trial, he would have been lynched, which in effect is what happened to Trayvon, he was lynched by a 6 woman all white jury. By the way, I do think that if the roles had been reversed and Trayvon had been standing over a shot Z and the police arrived, the police would has fired their weapons first and then asked questions. It is a paradoxical trap for the black shooter, if that had been the case, he was gonna be dead either way and our conversation would be a totally different one now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaintMichaelangelo Michael Cruise

    Zimmerman had the opportunity to never put himself in close range of Martin. He pursued an unarmed, lawfully-behaving stranger and it was Zimmerman that was not only armed but angry. Martin had the natural right to defend himself against this aggressive, angry, stalking and armed stranger.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaintMichaelangelo Michael Cruise

    You do not get to initiate a fight and as soon as you are in a disadvantaged position, then shoot and kill the other person.

    Well, apparently you do get to do that in Florida.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaintMichaelangelo Michael Cruise

    This happened once…in California. Reagan was Governor at the time. He immediately moved to have gun laws changed to prevent it from happening again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/SaintMichaelangelo Michael Cruise

    At the very least, if you shoot and kill any person, it is your blood that should be tested, not just that of the deceased victim.

  • Anonymous

    You’ve misrepresented the law; “no means of escape” is not an element of it. Indeed, the foundational “no duty to retreat” presumes that escape is an option.

  • Anonymous

    Martin was lynched by Zimmerman. The all-white-woman jury merely determined that he used a rope made in Florida.

  • Anonymous

    Tavis Smiley made a similar proposal to Bill O’Reilly a few nights ago. O’Reilly’s response was absolutely classic.

  • Sterling Wilson

    The law is that if you have a reasonable fear of being killed you have the right to protect your life with deadly force. That was the case here.

  • Sterling Wilson

    The one who initiated the fight was killed.

  • Sterling Wilson

    It is not illegal to follow or question someone. It is illegal to punch another in the face. It is also illegal to slam a person’s head into the pavement. There is no evidence of “angry”—that is only subjective supposition.

  • Sterling Wilson

    “Would have” and “I do think” are never a part of the law. Subjectivity has no place in it. You nor I can predict the future.

  • Sterling Wilson

    False.

  • Anonymous

    The law (chapter 776 of the Florida Statues) actually states, “a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” (776.13 (1)). And, again, your assertion that having “no means of escape” is an element of it is contrary to its “no duty to retreat” basis.

    Stop misrepresenting the law for your political purposes. It’s disingenuous and calls into question everything else you say. (Your assertion that Zimmerman “had no means of escape while another person was criminally pounding his head against the pavement while on top of him” is already questionable.)

  • Anonymous

    Who initiated the fight?

    Show proof for your answer, or at least strong evidence.

  • Anonymous

    “It is illegal to punch another in the face. It is also illegal to slam a person’s head into the pavement.”

    Not under certain circumstances, according to Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

  • Anonymous

    State your case.

  • Anonymous

    They’d also be cut down by police and “law-abiding citizens” — or, at least, they have reason to fear that would happen.

  • Dark Phoenix

    Funny thing is, there are countries on this planet where people aren’t allowed to carry guns… and despite the NRA’s claims, few of them (if any) suffer from the level of violent crime that the USA is known for.

  • CenterStage

    Center Stage, has done it again. On Friday night, the host came to the internet airwaves to engage in a critical discussion about the controversial “Stand Your Ground” Law and its relevance to the Trayvon Martin case and the Florida v. Zimmerman verdict with the topic: “Stand Your Ground Law: Self-Defense or License to Kill.” With a panel of three criminal attorneys from Florida and a sociology professor, she was able to engage the audience in topics that ranged from reform or repeal, the application of the law, flaws in the law, the importance of jury selection, race and the law, and a deep discussion about the Zimmerman verdict. Insightful, informative, and an incredible discussion!!! If you missed it live, you have the chance to be there now.”

    “Stand Your Ground Law: Self-Defense or License to Kill,” a must hear podcast!!!

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centerstage/2013/07/27/stand-your-ground-laws-self-defense-or-license-to-kill

  • CenterStage

    Center Stage, has done it again. On Friday night, the host came to the internet airwaves to engage in a critical discussion about the controversial “Stand Your Ground” Law and its relevance to the Trayvon Martin case and the Florida v. Zimmerman verdict. With a panel of three criminal attorneys all from Florida and a sociology professor, she was able to engage the audience in topics that ranged from reform or repeal, the application of the law, flaws in the law, the importance of jury selection, race and the law, and a deep discussion about the Zimmerman verdict. Insightful, informative, and an incredible discussion!!! If you missed it live, you have the chance to be there now.”

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centerstage/2013/07/27/stand-your-ground-laws-self-defense-or-license-to-kill

  • Karlheinz Groeger

    Wrong. Zimmerman had no business following Martin! Zimmerman is not a trained police officer, and as such, should have followed the advice of the dispatcher, and stayed in his vehicle, when it became a police situation! Zimmerman initiated the situation which got Martin killed. He may not be legally liable, but Martin is dead because of Zimmerman’s decision to play, cop, detective, judge, jury, and executioner, all within a few moments. Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is way too broad. Common sense, which is something missed by a lot of people in this case, dictates that we hire the police to investigate suspicious people, and let them decide whether Martin is a dangerous person, not some Neighborhood Watch volunteer cop want-to-be (Neighborhood Watch protocols specifically tell people not to engage; that’s why it’s call WATCH)!

  • Sweet Sixteen~But Wicked Smart

    Trayvon was cut down like a paok leader … No chance … He ought to have carried a gun or a knife or a baseball bat.

  • Anonymous

    why should a minor carry a weapon? Why should he have had a weapon and violence on his electronic media? IMHO, Zimmerman was wrong up until the first time his head hit the pavement. I still think he should be charged because he was only following a potential threat. Call the cops (he did) Lay way back (he apparently didn’t) and consider it done. He was/is a lightweight who was getting stomped by TM. Should have had pepper spray, baton, taser. He only had a gun. He used the gun. Head bounces off pavement, everything changes. Shame. I have heart disease and have had a heart attack and other health problems, but I can fight! – for about 3 minutes. After that I’m going to the pepper spray or gun.

  • nhman53

    The Stand Your Ground Laws across the country were written by ALEC, and passed by tea party crazies, edged on by the NRA! They’re confusing, hard to interpret, and MAY NOT protect you should you choose to “shoot first, ask questions later”. The laws actually encourage people to resort to violence, thinking that “the law” will protect them. IF you resort to shooting someone, your life will change, probably not for the better. Even though there’s a law that says you may have had the right to shoot someone,,,,,your life savings will probably be spent on legal expenses. Your family’s and neighbor’s perception of you will change, probably NOT for the better! Take a good look at George Zimmerman,,,,,,,,,how’s his life now?