Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

Stand Your Ground Or Shoot At Will?

on June 23, 2013


Florida is once again in the nation’s spotlight with a high profile trial.  George Zimmerman, facing second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, will face a jury of his peers on Monday when opening statements begin. Zimmerman is  charged with the second degree murder of the unarmed teenager in a February 2012 shooting.

Although the judge has denied Zimmerman’s request for immunity based on the Stand Your Ground law, the defense attorneys will attempt to prove that their client acted in self-defense.  The prosecutors are alleging that Zimmerman is a racist and accuses the defendant of racial profiling.

The Stand Your Ground law gives people the right to use deadly force if they feel their life is in danger or they could suffer great bodily harm.  They do not have to retreat from the situation; they can “stand their ground” and use a gun, knife, or other weapon to defend themselves.  This law has split the nation and created controversy since it’s passing in Florida in 2005.  Other states have similar laws, but not all include the right to use deadly force in public places.

Advocates say the law is necessary as it provides citizens with the right to defend their lives in times of home invasions, carjackings, and robberies in public places.

Critics of the law call it the “shoot first” law and want to repeal it.  They cite the increased number of defendants using the Stand Your Ground law as a platform to condone what they claim is outright murder.  They cite cases where the self-defense law was used in cases inappropriately and resulted in the defendant being exonerated when they were clearly guilty.  A man who stabbed another man with an ice pick during a road rage incident is one such case.

In Florida, a task force examining the law has concluded that the law is “confusing” but also condoned keeping the law in place.  “All persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be,” the 44-page report said.

The majority of Floridians agree with the task force.  They want the right to defend themselves and they don’t want to face prison when they do so.  They do not deny that the law has been misused by a number of defense attorney’s and their clients. But they also know that the law has provided protection from prosecution for those who used self defense and were right to do so.  It is up to the justice system to decide if the law applies to a defendant and they must look at each case on an individual basis based on the facts.

Whether the law applies to George Zimmerman is up to the courts and the jury and they will decide if he stood his ground or shot at will.  We’ll have to wait and see.

18 responses to “Stand Your Ground Or Shoot At Will?

  1. Bastet says:

    You should have been a journalist. 🙂

  2. Basharr says:

    Great post, I am a firm believer in our right to protect body, family and home. I do not know how Zimmerman’s trial will turn out but early in the game the media surrounding this case is doing their best to try the case before the jury gives us a verdict.

    • Doesn’t the media always do that? I think even with a gag order, the media just makes it up as they go along, so I always wonder, is the jury always as open minded as they claim? Ahhh…the media is a pet gripe of mine so don’t mind me.

  3. Gwen says:

    This case is so messed up, and I don’t know how this guy will get a fair trial. As a viewer sitting in my living room or surfing the ‘net, it’s impossible to know what’s true, whose side to believe, and what the media might be conveniently omitting. The media has a way of skewing a story and presenting the most tantalizing sound bites in order to gain ratings. I’m not sure how I feel about Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. Maybe I’m just a big city liberal, but to me it feels like reverting to the Wild, Wild, West.

    • The law probably needs clarifying so criminals can’t use it as a defense when it doesn’t apply. As for the Zimmerman case, we here in Florida are still reeling from the Casey Anthony debacle and I fear that the media is going to decide this case, not the jury! We’ll see!

  4. keladelaide says:

    As an Australian, I’m not sure about anything that happens in the U.S. I do know that home invasions and carjackings are on the increase here and don’t know how I would feel if that law were passed here.

    • It’s a tough thing to say whether it’s a good law or gives people the right to shoot on sight when they “feel” threatened. Time will tell if the law will stand.

  5. btg5885 says:

    In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Blink” he speaks of people being “primed to act” a certain way. If you remember Bruce Springsteen’s song “American Skin (sometimes called 41 Shots)” he speaks of how undercover police officers were primed to shoot a man who did not speak English well and ran when they asked him to stop. When he was cornered and pulled out his wallet, he was shot 41 times. The investigation showed the policemen were primed to shoot this person and they are far more skilled than Zimmerman. Zimmerman was told by 911 not to pursue the person. He was “primed to act.” I don’t know what happened, but it is pretty obvious Zimmerman was biased to act, even after being told not to. To me, at at a very minimum, he should be charged with reckless endangerment. My opinion and $2.25 will get you a grande, room for milk at Starbucks. Thanks for sharing, BTG

    • Hey, how come your opinion is worth so much? My usually only comes to a hill of beans? I have no idea how Zimmerman’s trial will come out, but my focus was on the Stand Your Ground law and the controversy it has generated. Thanks for your comments and now I have learned a new phrase “primed to act.” I like it!

  6. btg5885 says:

    I guess I have hard time with movable “stand your ground” interpretations. To me it just does not make any sense or justification to kill someone when you chase them down. By the way, I would have to borrow the $2.25 to get my cup of Joe.

    • Oh, I hear you. Too many cases are using the law as a defense when it is actually a crime that is committed. I think Zimmerman deserves to face manslaughter charges, not murder as I don’t believe he planned to shoot Martin. I think it was a case of things went too far on both sides.

    • By the way, now you owe me a hill of beans! 🙂

  7. btg5885 says:

    I can loan ya $2,25 :>)

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