(This was first posted in March, 2012)
In 2005, then Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed the now controversial “Stand Your Ground” law. The legislation was an expansion to what was known as the “castle doctrine”. Whereas, a person has certain protections and immunities and may in certain circumstances attack an intruder without becoming liable to prosecution.
The expansion of the law now allows anyone use deadly force without attempting to retreat in any location and removes the requirement that your own property is threatened. The law has resulted in self-defense claims tripling, with all but one of those killed unarmed. The Florida law has been used to excuse neighborhood brawls, bar fights, road rage, and even street gang violence.
Critics argue that Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law makes it very difficult to prosecute cases against people who shoot others and then claim self-defense. The shooter can argue they felt threatened, and in most cases, the only witness who could have argued otherwise is the victim who was shot and killed, as was the case in the Trayvon Martin killing.
To figure out how such a tragedy could take place, you have to look back at who would want to enact such a law. To start, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, for short, is a politically conservative, nonprofit policy organization, consisting of both state legislators and members of the private sector, mostly representing corporations. It’s most active donors are the Koch brothers, who have given millions of dollars to the organization for conservative causes.
ALEC lobbied for the bill with the assistance of the National Rifle Association, who brought it to their attention. Florida State Senator Durell Peadon, an ALEC member, introduced the bill in his state and it passed in early 2005. NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer reportedly stared down legislators as they voted. After Governor Jeb Bush signed it into law, Hammer presented the bill to ALEC’s Criminal Justice Task Force (now known as the Public Safety and Elections Task Force) months later.
It’s still too early to figure out if the law will pertain to the suspect in the case. Regardless, the law is now under scrutiny, and is certain to be open for debate on whether to repeal it.
Update: By now, all of you know what the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. The “Stand Your Ground” law worked to perfection for all citizens afraid to confront people without having to use common sense and diplomacy, even though the Zimmerman’s lawyers never used it in their defense. It is now legal for anyone to use a gun on anyone for any reason without malice. It’s now open season on all black teenagers in Florida.
God have mercy on us all!