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Ladd Everitt
Published: Saturday 12 May 2012
“With George Zimmerman soon headed to a pre-trial hearing to evaluate whether he will be protected by the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law in Florida, it is important to understand exactly how the law has made permissible the use of lethal force and legalized acts of murder that previously never would have been deemed ‘justifiable homicides.’”

Why ‘Stand Your Ground’ is really ‘Kill at Will’

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What do you call a law that allows a person to shoot and kill another human being when they could otherwise walk away safely?

I can only call it immoral.

With George Zimmerman soon headed to a pre-trial hearing to evaluate whether he will be protected by the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, it is important to understand exactly how the law has made permissible the use of lethal force and legalized acts of murder that previously never would have been deemed “justifiable homicides.”

In the wake of Zimmerman’s slaying of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, I have frequently heard people claim, “The ‘Stand Your Ground’ law does not allow you follow someone!” Often, the people claiming this are the ones responsible for the law, like the bill’s sponsor, Florida House Representative Dennis Baxley and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who signed it into law.

But, of course, Zimmerman had been carrying a gun and following — some would say stalking — young black men in his community for months before he ever encountered Trayvon Martin. He even notified police when he did so. More important, however, is the fact that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law removes an individual’s duty to retreat from a conflict in public even when he can safely do so:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Prior to the enactment of these laws, Americans always had a right to “stand their ground” on their property and use lethal force against home invaders. Centuries of English and American common law have long recognized that there is no place to retreat to when cornered in one’s own “castle.”

The law did, however, require individuals to retreat from physical confrontations in public if they could safely do so. If you were cornered in an alley, pinned to the ground or otherwise out of options to retreat, you could defend yourself with lethal force. But if it’s possible to just turn around and walk away, go home and sleep it off, and avoid escalating the conflict, the law required you to do so.

That’s no longer the case in the 25 states that have enacted “Stand Your Ground” laws at the behest of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). In those states, if you’ve had a terrible day, if you just don’t like the other guy very much or if you want to try out that new handgun you just bought, you can feel free to escalate the level of violence in a physical altercation by shooting him. Even if you kill him, the law has got your back. You’ll be immune not only from criminal prosecution, but also from any potential civil lawsuits.

Why is the NRA pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws? For the same reason it pushes a number of other laws meant to deregulate the purchase, possession and use of firearms — to sell more guns. Gun ownership has declined dramatically in the past 30 years, to the point that only one in five Americans now owns a firearm (and only one in 10 women). The gun industry’s challenge is to sell to men who already own multiple firearms. Industry marketing is focused on doing this by aggressively promoting military-style firearms (such as semiautomatic AR-15s and AK-47s) and “carry” guns (compact, semiautomatic handguns with “stopping power”).

By pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws, the NRA sends a clear message to the hotrods and wannabe vigilantes that’s it’s okay to buy yourself that new carry gun, bring it out into public and even use it without fear of legal repercussions. Then, when the rest of us realize that we are walking our streets surrounded by armed individuals with questionable backgrounds and terrible judgment (like Zimmerman), the NRA is hoping that we too will feel compelled to arm ourselves in public. It is a strategy that is both cunning and sick.

The NRA has shown us a roadmap to a society that relies solely on private violence — and the threat of private violence — to keep its citizens in line. Such a society absolves people of the responsibility to learn how to manage conflicts nonviolently, without escalating them. It’s not a society I want to see my daughters grow up in.

This morning, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, the Second Chance at Shoot First campaign has released a special video from Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton. Second Chance at Shoot First is a national movement launched by Color of Change, the NAACP, the National Action Network, the Urban League and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In the video, Sybrina Fulton asks viewers to “spare other mothers the pain” she has experienced by “calling upon the governor of your state to reexamine … ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws … to keep our families safe.”

You can heed her call right now by signing and sharing the following online petition from Second Chance at Shoot First.

No one should ever be allowed to walk our streets with a hidden handgun and kill at will. If we don’t start standing up to the NRA and ALEC, however, Zimmerman will be far from the last gun-toting vigilante to spill innocent blood.



ABOUT Ladd Everitt

Ladd Everitt is the Director of Communications at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a volunteer with the D.C. Crisis Response Team, and a neophyte practitioner of non-violence.

I said this from the

I said this from the beginning that he would eventually be arrested but only after they had time to get all the facts. Stand your ground does not equal chase down vigilante type shootings. The NRA has not made any statement supporting Zimmerman's actions, because it would be foolish for them to do so. I tend to lean to the left in most of my political views, but I do believe a person has a right to defend themselves.

Basically, I watch the 11:00

Basically, I watch the 11:00 news and feel compelled to carry a weapon in certain situations. I have been extensively trained whereas most people don't even know how to handle a pistol. Those are the people that shouldn't carry. Most people who have concealed carry permits don't carry a gun all the time. It weighs too much and is a bother. Most carry a gun concealed for personal protection. These people know that if you pull and use your gun, your life has changed forever and not for the better. I find it interesting that total gun ownership is dropping but handgun sales are the highest its ever been. But the right to defend yourself should never be taken away.

The "Stand Your Ground" Law

The "Stand Your Ground" Law is nothing more than "Shoot First and Ask Questions Later" in a different way. Shameful! It gives people the right to murder others in the first-degree and get away with it.

This is a dumb argument,

This is a dumb argument, people have the right to defend themselves if attacked anywhere, it's hard to walk away from a bullet. The point is meeting force with force is not what Zimmerman did, he was not attacked for one, and definitely not with a gun, so he was not following the dictates of the law. He attacked an unarmed man, not the other way around, the fact that Martin was walking home with snacks for his brother shows that he wasn't doing criminal. He was stalked and harassed by a strange man in the street.

This is entirely a race based issue, if this had been a black person who didn't have a relative that was a retired judge, he would have been arrested immediately(for example Marissa Alexander).

I think anti-gun activists are using these events to push for more stringent gun control laws. The fact is, that murders like this didn't just start occurring after "stand your ground" passed, black people could be killed, even on video and cops and citizens got away with it. Zimmerman is just using the lie of having to defend himself from deadly force(an unarmed teenager against a man), as a reason for "stand your ground" to apply to him. His story has too many holes in it for the law to apply.

The only person it applies to in this case is Trayvon Martin, A strange man carrying a deadly weapon was stalking him through dark streets; he had every right to defend himself against Zimmerman, and obviously "retreating(he was walking home)" wasn't working.

"By pushing “Stand Your

"By pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws, the NRA sends a clear message to the hotrods and wannabe vigilantes that’s it’s okay to buy yourself that new carry gun, bring it out into public and even use it without fear of legal repercussions. "

Umm no. It sends a clear message that if you reasonably believe that you need to use your gun to defend yourself you can. How is that bad? Wannabe vigilantes aren't empowered by this law but by the uselessness of the police, which leftists like you are ignoring to focus on your own personal issues with guns. Way to fight the power, ignoring it's faults so you can disempower the people.

"In those states, if you’ve had a terrible day, if you just don’t like the other guy very much or if you want to try out that new handgun you just bought, you can feel free to escalate the level of violence in a physical altercation by shooting him. "

Learn to read what you quote;
"including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself"
So no, you can't just pull out your gun if you don't like the guy very much. Stop lying.

So if for example, I'm

So if for example, I'm standing on a street corner, handing out paphlets saying Zimmerman is innocent, or guilty, doesn't matter which, and pull out a knife and tell me I'd better leave. In your mind it's immoral for me to defend my right to be on that street corner? If that is true congratulations, you've just left your rights entirely in the hands of the government. Good luck with that and your warped sense or morality.

It has reached a point where

It has reached a point where comments are practically meaningless. The Plutocracy that we voters have ignorantly allowed to burgeon is in control of just about everything that Americans used to trust—blindly. Whatever our protests may be, they already have us psyched out. It is a shame that ad agencies and PR firms feel they must go after the bucks, otherwise the powers that be would be certain to close them down through blacklisting (on the sly). I think that I will begin posting cute things from Readers Digest.

IMHO, You are full of bull

IMHO, You are full of bull excrement! This is coming from a former police officer. It is common sense to DEFEND yourself, no matter WHERE you are!
I, for one, am not going to run and hide!!

Using a case that has not even come to court... A case of which YOU, nor anyone else in the public has ANY TRUE knowledge of the facts...is damaging and irresponsible of you, and puts YOU in line for a lawsuit.

Your article will be remembered for its "shooting from the hip" without all the facts.

You are a disgrace to journalism...as are MOST journalists today.

And IMHO the people who should be blamed for the death of Trayvon Martin...are his PARENTS. THEY failed Trayvon for not being parents who cared enough to discipline their child. If YOUR child was on suspension for the THIRD time, wouldn't YOU make sure he did not step foot outside the house in the dark of night? Wouldn' t YOU make sure he was disciplined for his misdeeds? Or are you a poor parent also..if you are graced with any children at all.

But if you continue with your diatribe ..your miss-truths...I hope you never have children ..to pass on your attitude.

And IMHO Trayvon's mother is being USED!

The Obama administration is using this poor woman to further his campaign and his Marxist ideals to take guns away from law abiding citizens, so the only people left with guns are police ...and CRIMINALS. Let's not forget his Divide and Conquer tactics...make the Blacks hate Whites even more.

(By the way, Zimmerman is part Black, part Peruvian Indian (Hispanic) and part White. So how can you call him a White man? Do you call Obama a White man?)

Trayvon Martin's mother is also being used by race baiting so-called Black leaders who don't really care about the people they claim to protect, but to put money in their own pockets. Check out how much Jackson and his children have received from his race baiting. It is available online.

Shame! Shame! Shame on you and all the RACE BAITERS out there!

By the way, in Rules for Radicals...Obama's Bible....Alinsky would call you a..."useful idiot". He and Obama would throw you to the curb when they no longer need you. Read the book and learn!

Priceless, you're an idiot.

Priceless, you're an idiot. His parents are to blame for some crazed and racist lunatic killing him?

I agree with you on the fact that everybody has the right to defend his/herself, but the fact that you believe his problems in school justified his murder, shows your seriously warped sensibilities. This is an obviously a raced based issue, denying it will get you nowhere.

Shame on racism and all the

Shame on racism and all the countless lives it has snuffed out...we cannot even began to measure all the wealth in our country culled from the blood sweat and tears of African Americans. Your self righteous anger is clearly based on white supremacy. Whose using you? I would guess the ultra right hate mongers and sycophants for the richest 1%....

Priceless22 is a little bit

Priceless22 is a little bit upset. Nobody said they want your gun. You can keep at. There's a 12.5% greater chance that a gun owner will kill themselves before shooting someone else. 16000 gun homicides each year and 18,000 suicides. The author makes the point that Stand your Ground laws take self defense to a point where it allows murder. The Florida courts will rule on Zimmerman. If you want to stalk a person in public and claim self defense when he tries to defend his right to be on a street go for it. I suppose it will be okay for occupy demonstrators to start shooting cops since stand your ground will back them up. As far as your claims that Trayvon's parents were bad parents because he went to the store, and as for bringing race baiting and Obama hatred into the the discussion - you make no sense. The right would like us to believe that Obama supported Saul Alinsky. Obama was 7 years old when Alinsky wrote his book in 1971. By the way, once the Romney Capitalists are done with you and gain your useful, but all too ignorant vote, they WILL take your guns.

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