Justice For Trayvon: Repeal “Stand Your Ground” Laws In All 25 States

Trayvon Martin has now been dead for over a month. We know that George Zimmerman shot the 17-year-old to death, but no arrest has been made.

That’s because of so-called “Stand Your Ground” legislation, state laws assuring an expansive right to self-defense. Since “Stand Your Ground” laws allow people who feel threatened to use deadly force—even if they have an opportunity, as Zimmerman did, to safely avoid a confrontation—Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged. The law allows use of deadly force by someone who simply feels threatened by another, even when confrontation is avoidable. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense even though Martin was unarmed.

Deadly Force Justified Inside Or Outside The Home

What is Florida’s definition of self-defense? In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person’s right to use deadly force for self-defense. Deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened, in the home or “any other place where he or she has a right to be.”

From ProPublica:

Most states have long allowed the use of reasonable force, sometimes including deadly force, to protect oneself inside one’s home — the so-called Castle Doctrine. Outside the home, people generally still have a “duty to retreat” from an attacker, if possible, to avoid confrontation. In other words, if you can get away and you shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. In Florida, there is no duty to retreat. You can “stand your ground” outside your home, too.

“Justifiable Homicides” Have Skyrocketed In Florida Since The Advent Of “Stand Your Ground”

Prosecutors hate “Stand Your Ground” laws because they make it much harder to successfully prosecute people who claim self-defense. In Florida, a defendant doesn’t have to actually prove he acted in self-defense; instead, the prosecution has to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that he didn’t do so. In fact, the Florida law asks the police to make a factual determination in the moment, before a case even reaches a court. Generally these determinations are made by the courts.

The upshot? In 2010, the Tampa Bay Times reported that “justifiable homicides”—i.e., killings that were deemed legitimate—have skyrocketed in Florida over several years since the “Stand Your Ground” law went into effect.

Or, put another way:

“Stand Your Ground is a law that has really created a Wild West type environment in Florida,” said Brian Tannebaum, a criminal defense lawyer in Florida, told The New York Times. “It allows people to kill people outside of their homes, if they are in reasonable fear for their lives. It’s a very low standard.”

25 States Allow People To “Stand Their Ground”

Now, tragically, it appears that rather than use this as a learning experience, the National Rifle Association is pushing all 50 states to adopt these so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws.

From Mother Jones:

The National Rifle Association continues to press more states to adopt Florida-style “stand your ground” laws like the one that’s made it difficult to prosecute George Zimmerman.

(….)

The proliferation of these laws is part of a deliberate lobbying campaign by the NRA. In 2005, at the NRA’s urging, Florida became the first state to pass a “stand your ground” law. Before that, most states required you to retreat from a confrontation unless you were inside your own home. Now 25 states have these “stand your ground” laws, which critics call “shoot first” laws (Gawker’s pseudonymous blogger ”Mobuto Sese Seko” calls the laws “a great, legally roving murder bubble”) because they authorize citizens to use deadly force even if the person who makes them feel threatened is, like Martin, unarmed.

Click here for a map of the current situation across the U.S.

25 states have already adopted such laws despite their demonstrated danger. If you believe this is outrageous, please sign our petition telling all states to reject all “Stand Your Ground” laws before even more people are murdered for presenting imaginary threats.

Related Stories

Demand Justice For Trayvon Martin: Repeal “Stand Your Ground”

BREAKING: Department of Justice To Investigate Death Of Trayvon Martin

Trayvon Martin: What Does The Rest Of The World Think?

Photo Credit: Jonathon Gibby

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Jutta N.
Past Member 3 years ago

No more stupid, over-reactive legislations. Signed. How many more must die before somebody do something to stop this endless cycle of nonsense!

Robby C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Julian - "Wish there wasn't this stupid limit on these comments. It's hard to divide it up evenly"

Yeah, same here- or at least get the counter back so we'd know where we stood. At this point, I count lines. Usually 17 full lines will fit, but anymore is risking a sentence being cut-off or deleted...

Julian Adler
Julian A.4 years ago

@Robby C I didn't forget about you but it was getting so late and I wound up explaining so much that I'll have to finish it up later today. I'm only writing so much to explain a lot of the reasoning, so you at least know why I have certain opinions, since you asked me, that's all. It's not about any documents or anything like that but just some food for thought, even if you disagree with some of it.

Wish there wasn't this stupid limit on these comments. It's hard to divide it up evenly - also wish I hadn't said so much that's it's hard to post it!

Robby C.
Past Member 4 years ago

Julian- I see what you're saying. Fair enough. I didn't see exactly what transpired w/Carlos, etc, so I won't say more. I just know after having talked w/him here a few times, that he's been to a lot of countries & seen a lot of sick stuff while serving his country & I've found him to be a good person who's had a lot of obstacles to overcome & worked his ass off. I'm not saying there aren't others like him. You may be of them yourself... I don't know

It sounds like you believe in the 2nd ammendment w/certain restrictions. I have no problem w/that, but at same time, I see an alarming trend developing when it comes to gun control, since so many countries have banned them completely & the UN has wanted it's small arms treaty for years, etc. That scares me. So it's tough for me NOT to jump in when I see more desire for gun control. But based on my research, right before BO took office, ~42% of the US owned guns. Now, it's ~47%. I can't verify these stats, but I don't think it's tough to see that MORE people DO own guns now. Our nation is more racially divided & there is more fear & anxiety in the populace than ever before. It leads to many of the situations we're currently seeing & the more that people gun others down, the more people want guns for protection. It's very scary, but making guns illegal (again, not implying you're wanting that) is only helping criminals. Somewhere there is a balance.

Julian Adler
Julian A.4 years ago

@Robby C But he doesn't acknowledge that - with him it's always "my or the highway", so I was simply reminding him that his own Constitution says different, that's all. He insulted a
lot of people by saying we'd be happier moving to another country where people don't have guns and he doesn't get to decide that. Whether he likes it or not, this is my country and my Constitution as much as it is his and we have just as much right to advocate for increased gun control as he does in wanting less control. The State and Federal laws can only reflect what the Supreme Court decides, but withing that, certainly there's plenty of room for laws address gun control, either way, so of course our votes count. Nice we're agreeing on something about the last two Presidents! Even Obama, who was Progressive's big hope, was a big disappointment in many ways, and what you said about politics being bought and paid for is on the money,but you can thank the Supreme's Court's decision on Citizen's United for making it far worse! You scared me at first about Carlos B getting two votes - heaven forbid - but I understand what you meant. But guys who fought for this country will be the first to tell you "No I shouldn't - that's what I fought for - democracy, where everyone is equal under the law. Gun Control - Continued

Julian Adler
Julian A.4 years ago

@Robby C OK, I'll clarify what what meant in the first sentence, since you quoted me correctly. It was simply a statement of fact because Carlos B was saying in response to that Fred F "walk out of the house with a deadly weapon" comment, and then saying we can leave the country if we don't like it because of a dusty thing called the Constitution- he certainly was implying that the Constitution allows everyone to "walk out of the house with a lethal weapon". I was simply establishing that first because of his dictatorial and inaccurate implications. To allow everyone to walk out of the house with a lethal weapon' is tantamount to unlimited gun ownership. All I was saying (and you know I wouldn't bother getting into it with him) was simply that he or his supporters don't get to decide whose rights get supported and that there are limits to ANY rights. The balance of rights and limits of course arguable, and that's what we have a Supreme Court for, provided by that same dusty Constitution. That's all I was saying,and without any anger or insult and I know you respect that from your answer. Please see Continued