Self-defense is used when a person perceives danger around them, but a Florida law passed in 2005 has allowed countless shootings to occur with little investigation. This law is now a major factor in the Trayvon Martin case, where seventeen-year-old Martin was shot and killed by a volunteer neighborhood watch member who had been told by a 911 dispatcher to not pursue Martin. The 'Stand Your Ground' law claims that, “people who perceive a threat to use deadly force without first trying to retreat from a confrontation.” Of course, for many who have read the details of the case, it is clear that Zimmerman, the shooter, was in no real danger and decided to confront Martin on his own.
Laws similar to this one have popped up in states across our nation, calling for a severe need to revise self-defense laws. 'Stand Your Ground' laws open doors for citizens to shoot anyone they deem a danger with little accountability for their actions. It is essentially a scapegoat, and it is clearly being used for just that in this case. This is not the first time that a case like this has comes up, and it won’t be the last as long as we continue to allow atrocities like this one to occur.
In cases of self-defense, the person in danger is usually required to try to retreat from the situation before using self-defense. Using guns outside of self-defense in your own home is usually against the law as well. However, the 'Stand Your Ground' law does not require you to retreat. Martin was not a danger; he was only walking home. There is no clear reason why Zimmerman decided to pursue, and the possible racial slur in the 911 call makes matters worse for Zimmerman. However, this law may protect him from being charged with murder.
The law is obviously a scapegoat. It is a quick remedy for gun-happy vigilantes who are trying to take the law into their own hands. With a law as malleable as this one, it is easy for anyone to claim they shot someone because of self-defense. That is exactly what has occurred as well. It is increasingly used by gang members fighting gang members, drug dealers battling drug dealers, and people involved in road rage encounters. However, this case is far more than this. The racial slur, chasing Martin after being told not to, and shooting him without seeing a weapon first all point to something far more sinister in Zimmerman.
The Trayvon Martin case is tragic, and knowing that Zimmerman could possibly walk away because of a law like this speaks volumes about our nation. Now is the time to act. Martin was an innocent passerby who died because of how loose laws like this make it to carry and fire a weapon. This was no matter of self-defense. Zimmerman can hide behind the law, but the question of whether the law will protect him from pursing and starting a confrontation still has not been answered, although the answer is clear. This law should be eliminated completely to prevent horrors like this one to occurring to harmless people and their families.
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