Law is license to kill
May 22, 2012 • Emily Hack, Bear Facts Viewpoint Writer
Filed under Viewpoint
Laws are made to protect the innocent and to convict criminals. The Stand Your Ground law instead protects criminals by giving an excuse for murder.
The Stand Your Ground law authorizes “a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under specified circumstances; creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances,” according to Florida laws.
This law allows a person to use deadly force against an individual they feel threatened by, and not face any consequences.
“I think [the Stand Your Ground law] is being used to help criminals,” Erica Stuart, government teacher, said. “The law is very vague in the way it is written because you can be ‘threatened’ by someone yelling at you.”
There is no standard to what constitutes a threat. People can feel threatened by various situations; it does not make sense for a law to be so ill-defined. It gives anyone the ability to murder without repercussions, which must not be permitted in any state.
The Trayvon Martin case best exemplifies the abuse of this law. The 17 year-old boy, Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman claimed to have killed Martin out of self-defense and that the Stand Your Ground law supported him in this case. This case has made national news and has caused much uproar, anger and confusion over the law and the reasoning behind it.
“I think the nation’s attention brought to this case will force legislation and courts to question the legitimacy of the law,” Stuart said.
Zimmerman told authorities that after he briefly lost track of Martin, the teen approached him. After the two exchange words, he reached for his cell phone, and then Martin punched him in the nose. Zimmerman said Martin pinned him to the ground and began slamming his head into the sidewalk, according to an April Orlando Sentinel article from CNN.
There is no real way to know whether this information is true, but we do know that Martin is dead and has no way to defend himself or tell his version of what happened between him and Zimmerman. The Stand Your Ground law allows citizens a way to get out of punishments for their actions, while innocent people are being murdered and left without a say.
Florida authorities have selected 17 people to tackle the heated question: whether the state’s Stand Your Ground law should be changed. The task force will hear impassioned arguments and testimony from residents at public meetings across the state, according to the same April CNN article.
“We’re not walking into this with any preconceived notions,” Republican Governor Rick Scott said at a news conference. “If there are ‘logical changes to be made,’ he said, “the task force ‘will provide those.’”
The number of justifiable homicides in Florida has more than doubled since the Stand Your Ground was passed in 2005, according to a march article on USA Today, by Bradford Cohen.
Although the intent of this law is to protect the innocent victims who had no choice but to defend themselves, the Stand Your Ground law has turned into giving attackers a legal way to kill.
The Stand Your Ground law allows people to use deadly force when they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury, however, it does not define what a “reasonable” threat is. There must not be a law enacted in the United States that would give this power to some citizens over others.