The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case is making headlines. An unarmed boy is killed. The killer is a man who claims to have responded to a threat. Plus, a law supports a potentially lethal defense, if a person “reasonably” believes that they are in imminent danger. Then there are other factors: race, ethnicity, fear, alienation and guns. Tragic is a poor word for this real life horror. Blame abounds – and nothing can bring this poor young man back. The gun lobby has a point of view. The prosecutor has a point of view. The family has their terrible grief to deal with. And, we may never know the whole truth of what happenned that fateful evening.
But, we all ask why such things can happen in our blessed country.
My inquiry involves the lawmakers, who structure the safeguards in our society and a law called: Stand Your Ground. Did they properly think this law through, including the possible unintended consequences?
In legislation, it’s important to strike a balance between explicitness and flexibility. A law that is not flexible can lose its value as time and circumstance change. Our founding fathers were aware of this, and deliberately made our constitution a living, breathing, collection of principles that could be adapted to suit societies changing needs. A law that is too ambiguous can be just as cumbersome – and in certain situations, dangerous.
The State of Florida instituted such a law in 2005. The Stand Your Ground law as it is now famously known was intended to give people the right to protect themselves if their lives are in danger. According to the law, deadly force against an identified individual can only be used if “the person reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that he or she has exhausted every reasonable means to escape such danger.”…Read more