By now you probably know about the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin, who was gunned down in Florida by a man who said he was defending himself from a 17 year old boy armed with Skittles and an iced tea. Part of the reason this man, George Zimmerman, has not yet been arrested is because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. This law gives the benefit of the doubt to those who use deadly force when they feel threatened. Under the Stand Your Ground law, an individual does not have the responsibility to retreat, even when they may do so safely.
What you may not know is that the Florida law is just one of 21 similar laws passed around the country in recent years. One of those 21 laws was passed in North Carolina last year—the Castle Doctrine Law (House Bill 650). Castle Doctrine implies that this legislation applies only to a home or residence. However, HB 650 extends past the individual’s home to their workplace or vehicle. Making them immune to civil or criminal prosecution if they claim they felt threatened or in danger.
Since the Stand Your Ground law went into effect in Florida, the number of justifiable homicides has tripled. And a young life was tragically cut short because of a claim of self-defense. It’s time for Florida, North Carolina, and states across this country to take a hard look at these Stand Your Ground Laws. Changes need to be made before another tragedy occurs.