Earlier this year, the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen shot and killed in Florida, shed light on two important issues: race relations and the Stand Your Ground law.
Nine months later, the lessons that we learned from Trayvon’s tragic death seem to be pardoned as we’re forced to relive the same nightmare with the death of Jordan Davis.
Jordan, like Trayvon, was a 17-year-old boy who was killed by a licensed gun owner who perceived him as a “threat,” despite the fact that he was not carrying a weapon. On top of that, both Trayvon and Jordan’s killers are hiding behind a law that justifies their use of deadly force and the misjudgment they made about African American boys who they thought were threats. Because of the Stand Your Ground law, it’s possible that their killers will go unpunished and justice for their deaths will be forsaken.
Passed in Florida in 2005, the Stand Your Ground law gives people the right to use deadly force against someone they feel is threatening to kill them, or cause great bodily harm, without having to retreat or specify what’s a legitimate threat. This law was also passed in 20 other states, including South Carolina and Mississippi. Advocates for the law argue that it allows people to protect themselves by meeting force with force. However, their argument fails to recognize the fallacy of the law, which does not take into account racial implications, stereotypes or poor judgment by a person who feels justified to kill another. The law also unintentionally grants people the right to bring lethal weapons to heated confrontations.
Months after Trayvon Martin was killed, Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered a task force to investigate the “Stand Your Ground” law to see if it needed to be changed. However, critics complained that the committee was dominated by Republicans who already supported the law. After their investigation, the task force made minor changes to the law which included making the state limit neighborhood watch volunteers to “observing, watching, and reporting” and allowing law enforcement to investigate a person who uses the Stand Your Ground self-defense claim. As a result, within one year the same tradegy has been repeated.
We do not need another Trayvon or Jordan to die to realize the fallacy of this law. It needs to be repealed now.