Stand Your Ground Loses Ground
A law becomes ineffective at the point where it ceases to protect its own citizens. Stand Your Ground laws are present in 24 states, and since their implementation, there have been enough occurrences of innocent loss of life to warrant their removal, or at least their serious amendment. These laws state that “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if […] he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” The glaring problem is that people’s perceptions of what constitutes being ‘threatened’ are highly subjective. And the result of this subjectivity has too often been unnecessary death.
Recently in Florida, this law has received attention after it was used to justify the actions taken against Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman claimed that he had a right to shoot Martin because the unarmed 17-year-old had threatened him. In fact, as a result of Treyvon’s case, this Florida statute is coming under investigation.
Unfortunately, the investigation committee—comprised of a 19-member panel and led by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll—itself has come under question. As State Representative Dwight Bullard of Miami wrote to Governor Rick Scott, “Though on face you have selected a mixed group, in reality the lawmakers chosen for this task force all represent a singular viewpoint, having all voted [for] and/or co-sponsored the bill that would become the ‘Stand Your Ground’ statute.”
According to the Huffington post, “Florida state lawmakers say that Stand Your Ground needs clarifying.”
Obviously it is dangerous to have a law in place that can and has led to the loss of innocent lives due to its lack of clarity. Yet more obvious is the fact that flawed laws such as this should be investigated by committees that are at least relatively impartial.
In the words of State Senator Chris Smith, “You have gang members having shootouts and availing themselves of this law. You have people chasing someone a block down the street stabbing someone to death and availing themselves of this law. I think those points need to be clarified.”