Florida Stand Your Ground Laws

Taylor Moore, Staff Writer

By now, everyone is familiar with the story of Trayvon Martin; the Florida resident who was the victim of murder. George Zimmerman, the attacker, was allowed to walk free by his panel of six female jurors. In the more recent years out of the seven the stand-your-ground law has been in action, America has seen more and more violence. What is behind this violence? Many place the blame on the laxness and prejudice of the stand-your-ground law.
The law itself is pretty simple. The stand-your-ground law grants persons the right to use deadly force to defend themselves, without any necessary retreat or evasion from a dangerous situation. This law is only legalized in 23/50 states, such as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia. The National Rifle Association (NRA), which has supported the drafting and passage of this law with $2.6 million of support, finds this law to be necessary because it “is turning focus from criminals’ rights to those of the law-abiding who are forced to protect themselves.”
Although the most famous, or infamous examples are in Florida, there have been other instances in other states as well. November, 2007, a man in Houston, Texas, used a shotgun to shoot and kill two men whom he presumed to be burglarizing his neighbor’s home. This 61-year-old-retiree had previously called 911 and asked to, ‘Catch these guys, will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go.’ Texas Legislature had passed the Stand Your Ground law two months prior, finding Joe Horn free of any criminal charges.
With many believing the alleged perpetrators to be old huntsmen with itchy fingers and a polished shotgun, there are many more examples of the stand-your-ground law for the younger set. 22-year-old Cordell June in Arizona shot and killed 29-year-old mentally disabled Daniel Adkins Jr. for walking in front of her car at a Taco Bell drive-thru. June later claimed she felt “threatened” by the dog leash Adkins was holding. Earlier this year, a grand jury cleared Byron Thomas, 21 and from Louisiana, after he shot and killed teenager Jamonta Miles during an alleged marijuana deal. It is claimed that the SUV the deal was transacted in was driving away when Thomas fired, but Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said Thomas had “decided to stand his ground.”
The ratio of support in the United States is 53% support, 40% oppose, and 7% are undecided. Sea king Junior Nicole Amiridis says, “The Stand-Your-Ground law should really be called the shoot-first-ask-questions-later. It allows people to get away with murder, and although the NRA would love for people to think that this law promotes safety, the amount of homicide cases in Florida has greatly increased since the law was created.”
The law, which Floridians had attempted to repeal in 2013, is still in action, and is still allowing people to use deadly force if they fear for their safety. Ever since the law’s enactment, self-defense claims in Florida has tripled. Being part of the deep south and still somewhat de jure segregated, it raises question about whether these attacks are race related or not. The continued action of this law still sparks controversy over Trayvon Martin’s murder trial, as well as the other incidences that have happened as a result of this law. While the nation waits for the next stand-your-ground act of violence, Californians are not completely excluded. Although California does not take part in that law, California has a Castle Doctrine, which is a form of self-defense.
The Castle Doctrine is a doctrine which gives citizens the legal right to use force, including lethal weapons, to defend themselves from an intruder. The Castle Doctrine also leaves the defender free from legal prosecution for their actions. Similarly to California, Texas has a Castle Doctrine, however Texans are also granted the right to use deadly force to protect their property as well as themselves, if they fear it is in danger.
Whether for they are for better or for the worst, these “Stand Your Ground” Laws have elicited controversy throughout the nation.