Sunday, March 25, 2012

Stand Your Ground Laws

The killing of Trayvon Martin is a tragedy. Also the average person does not know all of the facts of what happened in that encounter. But based on what is known one conclusion can be immediately drawn: the "Stand Your Ground" law that exists in Florida is not to blame.

People are blaming that law, and it appears that George Zimmerman may plan on using it as a defense if charges are brought against him.

A "Stand Your Ground" law only applies if the person doing the shooting does not initiate the encounter. That law only applies if the action is defensive. If someone initiates an encounter, and the confrontation escalates over the course of the encounter, there is still no interpretation that leaves defensive lethal force on the part of the person who initiated the encounter.

George Zimmerman, if the press reports are accurate, was trying to act as a neighborhood watch. At some point he confronted someone he thought was suspicious in his neighborhood. He initiated the encounter.

Those who are claiming this is the result of "Stand Your Ground" laws are deliberately obfuscating the issue. Their purpose can only be to argue against this particular aspect of self defense, so as to confine all defensive actions to those by the government on behalf of the people it allegedly protects. It is unfortunate that George Zimmerman is falling for that obfuscation as his doing so only adds fuel to those making the claim.

Vigilantism isn't the same as self defense, and "Stand Your Ground" and other related doctrines don’t apply to the vigilante. There are times when vigilantism is valid, but it should be clearly identified as such and not confused with a purely defensive action.


Anonymous said...

Being a part of a neighborhood watch shouldn't be equated with being a vigilante. The press reports "ARE NOT" accurate. They are deliberately skewed to make a 6' 3", 200+, football playing, wannabe gangster the victim of a racially motivated attack. I've only heard that Zimmerman followed Martin — not confronted him. And that Zimmerman was struck from behind as he was going towards his car. Following a suspicious person is not (in my book) initiating an encounter. I agree that this is a case of self-defense and not a Stand Your Ground case.

kmbanks413 said...

Now that new pictures and evidence are coming out that show Zimmerman was defending himself, I don't believe that the Stand Your Ground Law will apply. Trayvon had drugs in his system and his knuckles were skinned. You ought to write a blog on the mainstream medias prosecution of Zimmerman and misreprestenation of fact by the media and the DA. Apparently the DA can be charged with a crime for withholding evidence in order to form a conviction to appease the public.