If there is any law in the state of Florida that has been under more scrutiny in recent years, perhaps the single law in the spotlight has been the notorious “stand your ground” law.
Or maybe in Florida, it’s called the George Zimmerman law.
There was much press coverage of the tragic shooting that took the life of black teenager Trayvon martin at the hands of George Zimmerman. It was played up as a horrific crime committed by a racist neighborhood watch volunteer against an unarmed black teenager who was just walking down the street.
When the facts came out at trial, however, Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder. While the city basically went on fire for a few days, it turned out that a “stand your ground” law in Florida enabled Zimmerman to be acquitted.
So what is a “stand your ground” law? I Florida, there is s self-defense law called ‘stand your ground,” which enables a person to use force to defend himself or herself from an imminent threat of danger. As the case unfolded, it was revealed that Trayvon Martin was physically assaulting George Zimmerman outside of Zimmerman’s home, and Zimmerman shot Martin to get him to stop his attack.
At trial, Zimmerman used the “stand your ground” law as a defense, establishing that he was fear and threat for his life, and thus he had rightful justification to shoot Martin while Martin was on top of him, slamming his head against the sidewalk. The jury was convinced that the evidence supported the defense, and Zimmerman was cleared of all charges.
“Stand your ground” laws have cropped up in most states before and since the Trayvon Marin case, and there are variations of the law where some have a ‘duty to retreat” provision, while others have a “castle doctrine” provision. Some states have “stand your ground” laws as an affirmative defense at trial, while others use it as part of a claim to force prosecutors to prove otherwise before going to trial.
In Florida, Zimmerman had to prove “stand your ground” at trial, and the law in Florida does not have a “duty to retreat” provision, where the person under threat had to show that he or she retreated from the threat as much as possible before using force.
The Second Amendment does allow U.S. citizens to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense, and “stand your ground” laws have been effective in clearing up the cloudiness of some shooting cases to help distinguish between second-degree murder, manslaughter and self-defense. We do have a right to defend ourselves, and we shouldn’t; be labeled as criminals if we do so and someone gets killed. Our safety and the safety of our loved ones is most important.