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Florida's Stand Your Ground Law(EDITOR’S NOTE: See my analysis of the “enhanced Zimmerman arrest video” here.)

One month ago (February 27th), a Florida man named George Zimmerman called 911 for the 47th time in 58 days to report “a suspicious character” inside the gated community where he lived. That “suspicious character” was the 17 year old Trayvon Martin, who had gone out that night to buy his brother a bag of “Skittles” (and himself an iced tea). Zimmerman clearly enjoyed playing “cop”, volunteering for the Neighborhood Watch, calling the police almost daily, even lying about his father being a retired municipal court judge (Correction: George’s father is a retired Virginia Supreme Court magistrate) and falsely claiming to have applied to the Police Academy (Correction2: Unconfirmed, Zimmerman did apply and was rejected for having a criminal record.) With a gun strapped to his hip like in the Wild West, the armed Zimmerman pursued Trayvon even after the 911 operator told him not to. Eventually, Zimmerman confronted Martin, and at some point pulled his gun and shot & killed the unarmed young man. It is almost impossible to believe there is even a question of Zimmerman’s guilt. And there would be none if it weren’t for a Florida law (pushed by the NRA with the help of a compliant Republican legislature) called “Stand Your Ground” that allows anyone to use “deadly force if they feel their life is being threatened.

I want you to consider that the moment Zimmerman left his home to pursue Trayvon, he was putting himself in harms way and no longer “standing his ground”. Despite the fact the 911 operator told him not to do that, yet he did anyway, THAT made Zimmerman the aggressor, and if Martin of had been carrying a gun, MARTIN would of been well within HIS right to shoot and kill the armed man that had been following him that dark & rainy night.

But defenders of the Florida law are claiming Zimmerman was justified in firing in “self defense” once a confrontation between the two (supposedly) broke out.

Think about that for a moment. Forget about the absurdity that an unarmed 17 year old kid that had just called his girlfriend because he was afraid someone was following him, suddenly turning and attacking an armed 250 lb man. Think about the law that allowed Zimmerman… the aggressor… to claim “self defense”.
 

If a man tried to hold up a liquor store, and the man behind the counter pulled out a baseball bat to hit the robber with, would the robber then be allowed to “stand his ground” and shoot & kill the clerk in the name of “self defense”?
 

Most people would say “of course not”, but that’s exactly what this Florida “Stand your ground” law allowed Zimmerman to do. The moment he ignored the 911 operator, Zimmerman became the aggressor. The moment he confronted Trayvon, he became “the attacker”.

The Right is going nuts over the injection of “race” into this issue because once again, Republicans find themselves defending a law of their own creation that automatically assumes any minority to be suspect (see: “Voter ID”, “Welfare Reform”, “AZ’s Papers Please” law, etc). But to me, while “race” is the reason behind why someone can shoot & kill a young black man and not even be detained by police out of the assumption the teen was “up to no good”… even drug testing the victim and not the shooter (whose sounds to me on the 911 tape like a man who had been drinking)… the REAL issue is a Florida law that legalizes murder.

Before “Stand Your Ground”, a person had a duty to try and AVOID a confrontation if they could, and if deadly force IS used, there is an investigation as to whether it is justified. But with this new law, the officer on the scene is forced to make a snap decision as to whether or not a crime had occurred, potentially allowing a murderer… not just go free… but go free WITH HIS GUN. For all the officer on the scene knew, Zimmerman and Martin could of been in a fight earlier that day (afterall, he IS claiming an injured nose and head) and perhaps told Martin that “if he ever saw him again, he’d shoot him.” Maybe Trayvon was dating Zimmerman’s daughter and he didn’t like that. The officer fresh on the scene would have no way of knowing, and yet, this law puts officers in the position of possibly allowing someone with an ulterior motive go free.

“Stand Your Ground” is not just a law that needs to be repealed, it’s a law that never should of passed in the first place. I wish I could say I was surprised that a Republican-led legislature in a Southern state, eager to please the NRA, would push through such a flawed law without fully considering its repercussions.

(REMINDER: Be sure to add M.R.S. to your Twitter feed for the latest updates & observations.)


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