Most of you faithful readers won’t recognize the tone or voice, and maybe not even the views, of this blog post. You see, my father is recovering from some medical issues, so he asked me to help him write this month’s blog posting. He picked the topic, but the views shared are a combination of his and mine. So, read on, if you dare!
Since George Zimmerman shot Treyvon Martin a lot of time and energy has been spent arguing the pros and cons of Stand Your Ground laws around the country; especially in Florida.
Do you have the right to "Stand Your Ground"? More importantly, should you have that right?
Let's start with a simple fact. George Zimmerman never claimed immunity under Florida's Stand Your Ground law. SYG assumes that a person has the opportunity to retreat or flee from a confrontation and chooses not to. In the case of George Zimmerman, one of two things happened, depending on whom you believe:
- Zimmerman targeted, ambushed, and killed Martin.or
- Martin pinned Zimmerman to the ground, and began punching him in the face and slamming his head in the concrete. Zimmerman fired his gun from under Martin, to stop the deadly assault.
This first scenario is what the prosecution claims, and it is murder, cut and dry. The second, which is what the defense claimed, is a clear case of self defense in every state in this country. This is why the defense waived SYG during pre-trial1.
In spite of this fact, calls for the repeal of this and other laws have appeared across the country. Some, such as from our President, implied a connection between the law and the case2 while others3, including calls from Martin’s own mother blame the boy’s death and his killer’s acquittal directly on the law. Though this case was not about SYG, the national interest in this type of law invites an examination of what a Stand Your Ground Law really is.
SYG is simply the belief that, if you have the right to be somewhere, no one else has the right to assault or attack you or to use force or the threat of force to chase you away. In the words of Michigan’s stand your ground law, “An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat. . .”4 if that individual is in fear of their life.
You have the God-given right to stay where you are; to "Stand Your Ground". All 50 states employ the so-called "Castle Doctrine" which mandates that if an intruder enters a person's home, the victim does not have to retreat and leave his or her home before using forceful self-defense. Fourteen states have enacted explicit Stand Your Ground laws, like the one we see above, while still others have doctrine through judicial interpretation 5.
Is Stand Your Ground right? I am not willing to comment on any particular state’s version of the law, but I strongly agree with the basic doctrine. If someone confronts me and threatens me, regardless of where I am (assuming I am there legally), I shouldn’t have to try to figure out how to defend myself AND get out of there. I should have the right, but not the obligation, to retreat.
Think about this; if I am armed, and you are not, and we are both being assaulted, what if I retreat and you can’t?
At least that's my opinion. What's yours?
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