Stand up to Stand Your Ground

Posted: July 17, 2013 in Law, Racism
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Stand your ground law cartoon               I don’t want to talk about race right now. I know the verdict and the outrage and the wounds are still very fresh, but the matter at the heart of the trial and this tragedy lies within a law the state of Florida and many other states have adopted. “The Stand Your Ground Law” is the very reason Zimmerman has been let go on a full acquittal. Unfortunately this law has torn apart numerous families of all races and backgrounds. My question is about the law itself what does it mean?

By definition the Stand Your Ground Law states that a person may justifiably use force in self -defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat first.The concept exists in statutory law and sometimes in common law precedents. The confusion that people seem to have in this law is if it applies defending your home, vehicle or whether it applies to ALL lawfully occupied locations. In certain situations the Stand Your Ground Law would be a defense to criminal charges and civil suits (remember these words).

This law and variations of the law date back as early as the 1800’s. The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Beard v. U.S. in 1895 that a man “on his premises” “when he came under attack and”did not provoke the assault, and had at the time reasonable grounds to believe, and in good faith believed , that the deceased intended to take his life, or do him great bodily harm…was not obliged to retreat, nor to consider whether he could safely retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground.

I don’t know the statistics of how many people have died within the last year where a someone has used the law as a defense. The main issue with this law is the vagueness of which state upholds using the law on one’s own property or if it applies to all locations. My question to this law is, when a person feels threatened to the point of bodily harm and uses deadly force to defend themselves, at which point would the law side with the person they are now causing harm to.It may be a little confusing what I just said. I’ll put it in another context. If you and I were in a disagreement and you at one point felt threatened by me enough to use deadly force ei gun, knife, etc. at what point would the law apply to me since now my life is also in danger and I now fear for my life? Something to think about

My other issue with the law is that the crime rate has gone up particularly in cases of homicides in the state of Florida using this law. Economists at Georgia State using monthly data from the US Vital Statistics show a large increase in homicides and injury of whites especially white males. ER visits and hospital discharges related to gun injuries have increased in states which have enacted these laws. In 2007 the National District Attorneys Association symposium voice valid concerns that they felt this would increase the crime rate. Criminals can protect themselves using this law even during a crime.The report noted that racial and ethnic minorities could be at greater risk because of negative stereotypes.

States that have their own Stand your Ground Law: Alabama,Alaska,Arizona,California,Florida,Georgia,Indiana,Kansas,Kentucky,Louisiana,Maine,Massachusetts,Michigan,Mississippi,Missouri,Montana,New Hampshire,North Dakota,Ohio, Oklahoma,Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee,Texas,Utah,West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming all have adopted the Castle Doctrine statutes. Iowa, Virginia and Washington have considered Stand your Ground laws of their own. Buddy Jacobs a lawyer representing the Florida Prosecuting Attorney’s Association  wants to repeal the law. “The law is confusing”.  I definitely agree there are too many gray areas in the law that leave it up to interpretation instead of the law clearly outlining who,what,when and where it applies to. One thing is clear, due to the recent trial and other homicides that leave question marks in the defense this law needs either a serious modification or an overall overhaul. Just a thought

Let Justice and Peace lead the way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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