A lot of talk out there about the Trayvon Martin case.
A lot of talk about the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida. What is it?
Is it an invitation for NRA crazed, Timothy McVey types to unload full clips at someone on their porch? Is it the last bastion of American freedom, protecting us from zombies and Bolsheviks?
I think it's time that we found out. So, if you've been babbling about this law and have never read it, you now have now excuse. Unless its dyslexia. Er uhm...I'm sorry...lysdexia.This is a link to the law itself.
The vast majority of the law speaks on forced entry situations which I am in full support of. It becomes problematic because it is opened to the interpretation of the resident/ property owner, and he/she might misinterpret situations as threats that are not. However, no law is a complete catch-all. I fully support the right to defend your home, vehicle, or family from an intruder.
The part of this law that's relevant to the Martin case is the third provision. That is, if a person who is legally allowed to be in a location is attacked (presumably physically) by another, he or she has the right to meet the assailant with anything up to and including deadly force. If, of course, the assailed party is not breaking a law his or herself. Here's the kicker with this law though: the victims life doesn't actually have to be threatened...it's if the victim believes he or she is in danger of grave bodily harm.
So if I can convince a jury that I believed the nerf gun was a real gun, or a bag of skittles was a glock 9, then I can use deadly force in a stand your ground situation. This is important because it more or less exonerates Zimmerman in and of itself. If there was reasonable doubt as to Trayvon attacking first, and that Zimmerman believed his life was endangered, and Zimmerman broke no law in the occupancy of his personal space...then, Zimmerman cannot be statutorily convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.
I actually believe Zimmerman was ethically wrong for running around with a gun on a neighborhood watch shift. He, essentially, was acting as a sworn officer of the law without the training, background check, and psychiatric make-up to do real police work. This is an amateur masquerading as law enforcement.
I'm not sure we should destroy the stand your ground law.
But we need to amend the law before more lunatics decide they want to play The Shield today. Maybe throw in a provision nullifying the law if the citizen is following the suspect around.
As for Zimmerman? Legally, the verdict was correct.
Ethically...I believe he was guilty of at least manslaughter. His following of Trayvon was negligent. Neighborhood watchers should alert law enforcement, not play Officer McGruff.