Sometimes we have to face the reality of a situation that is presented to us and accept the judgment handed down - no matter how bad or unjust it is. In the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the black high school junior who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman while walking home from a 7-Eleven, we find ourselves in such a situation.
The question brought to mind by the shooting is the last law in Florida, better known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, which has apparently turned the sunshine state into the Wild Wild West.
Signed into law by then Governor Jeb Bush in 2005, the mandate stems from the "castle doctrine," which states you could use deadly force if someone attacked you in your home or outside of it.
The law is archaic and opens the discussion of justifiable homicides, which in fact has tripled in Florida since the law went into effect in 2005.
According to the St. Petersburg Times, Stand Your Ground has been invoked in at least 93 cases with 65 deaths. To date, 16 states have followed Florida's lead since 2005, enacting "Stand Your Ground" laws.
From 2000 to 2005, an average of 13 killings by private citizens were deemed justified each year and between 2006 and 2010, after the law was enacted, that average increased to 36 killings per year, the highest was in 2009 at 45.
But looking at the language when it comes to the Trayvon Martin case, “justifiable homicide” and “self-defense” are in direct correlation of one another.
Zimmerman claims he shot Trayvon in self-defense, even though he was the one that followed him in his SUV, got out of his vehicle, disregarded advice from the 911 operator who told him not to engage and confronted Martin.
Zimmerman and the Sanford police believe that he was justified in shooting Trayvon because he was defending himself.
It’s the law that’s keeping Zimmerman out of jail.
In 2010, Trevor Dooley, 71, went to a local park carrying his loaded gun, which he had a permit for. In that same park, David James, a 41-year-old 20 year decorated U.S. Air Force serviceman was playing basketball with his 8-year-old daughter.
Later on, the two men argued over a kid on a skateboard on the basketball court and when Dooley tried to enforce the rules, according to court records James said Dooley lunged at him, resulting in Dooley shooting James - killing him in front of his 8-year-old daughter.
The case has been ongoing for the last two years and a judge will decide the outcome of the case later on this month and rule whether or not Dooley was merely standing his ground.
Call it what you want, “justifiable homicide,” “self-defense,” or “stand your ground,” the bottom line is NO ONE is legally entitled to kill another person over a dispute or confrontation.
In 2008, a 15-year-old boy was killed during a gang shootout in Tallahassee, no one was held accountable for the crime because a judge, citing the law, dismissed the charges.
Believe me, I’m hoping George Zimmerman gets thrown in jail; someone has to be held accountable for Trayvon Martin’s death, but we have to except the possibility that thanks to a law that gives grants justifiable homicide, he may walk free even though the evidence says otherwise.
And if history has taught us anything, it can repeat itself. I hope it doesn’t.
Shaka Griffith serves as the News/Politics Editor of GlobalGrind.com Follow him on twitter @Darealshaka
For more on Trayvon Martin, click on the links below.