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

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?

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Photo Credit: Jonathon Gibby

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199 comments

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1:47AM PDT on Aug 15, 2013

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5:33AM PST on Feb 1, 2013

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

11:28AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

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...

1:08AM PDT on Aug 12, 2012

@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!

11:26PM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

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.

6:20PM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

@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

6:00PM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

@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

4:05AM PDT on Aug 11, 2012

@Carlos B
Just browsing through some old posts. On April 2, you commented that the dusty old Constitution allows gun possession and that you're sorry that if other people's rights bother us, we should go live in another country that doesn't allow guns. The Constitution certainly doesn't allow unlimited firearm ownership, but, of course that is where the argument lies and people have that right. But whether you like it or not, when one person's right conflicts with another person's right, we don't move to another country, Carlos, that's called dictatorship where only one person gets to choose rights. No, the Constitution provides for a Supreme Court to decide such arguments. YOU don't get to decide.

2:19PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

Continued:

I've owned firearms all my life. I've been carrying a pistol since the early 1970's and got a concealed carry permit in the mid-1980's. I've been certified as an armed security officer, yet only one time have I pointed a firearm at another person. That person was beating a woman inside a car right outside my front door, and I aimed at his head as I pulled him out of the car and held him for the cops. I had no idea as to how he was armed, and because he was attacking another person I could have shot him without fear of being prosecuted myself. Got a problem with that?
The uproar over the Zimmerman case is 100% justified, but now that he's been charged with murder let's let the courts take care of it, and stop all the nonsense about standing one's own ground. After all, even Ghandi believed in self defense:
"I do believe that where there is only a choice between cowardice and
violence, I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he
should have done had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in
1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he
should have used his physical force and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence." - Mahatma Ghandi

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." - Albert Einstein

2:16PM PDT on Apr 13, 2012

While there may be a problem with the way the Stand Your Ground law is written and or interpreted in Florida, the basic concept is correct; and the the whining by so many so-called "Progressives" over issues like this is the main reason I left the Democratic party and became an Independent.
Does anyone in their right mind really believe we should be forced to retreat from aggression? Does being a Progressive automatically equate with being a cowardly wimp? I don't think there's anything progressive about expecting others to protect you, or to penalize people for standing up and protecting themselves.
Here's a scenario to contemplate: In the middle of the night two assholes kick down your door and burst into your home. You're scared, but your kids are asleep in another room, and you fear for their lives well as your own. Is it the "progressive" thing to do to run out of the house and leave your kids behind, or do you stand your ground and shoot the intruders?
Why would it be any different outside your home?
I've owned firearms all my life. I've been carrying a pistol since the early 1970's and got a concealed carry permit in the mid-1980's. I've been certified as an armed security officer, yet only one time have I pointed a firearm at another person. That person was beating a woman inside a car right outside my front door, and I aimed at his head as I pulled him out of the car and held him for the cops. I had no idea as to how he was armed, and because he was at

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