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Stand Your Ground Law History Prior To George Zimmerman Trial

Anti-Gun Group Does Stand Your Ground PSA; Recreates Trayvon Martin Shooting

Stand Your Ground laws are under after the George Zimmerman trial despite Zimmerman waiving his right to the Stand Your Ground immunity during a pre-trial hearing.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Stand Your Ground opponents proposed a Florida orange juice boycott.

Recent reports also show that black defendants in Florida appear to successfully invoke the Stand Your Ground law at a slightly higher rate than whites. This is despite Stand Your Ground claims involving blacks only account for about 30 percent of all cases.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently commented on Stand Your Ground laws, saying, “There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — if no safe retreat is available.” The Stand Your Ground laws actually find their place in 17th century English law called the Castle Doctrine, which basically says that if an intruder breaks into an individual’s home, or castle, the individual is not obligated to try to retreat before defending him or herself with force.

But Eric Holder also claims Stand Your Ground laws eliminate “the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.” The Castle Doctrine of the 1600’s literally told people they must retreat “to the wall at one’s back” with the understanding that the king and his men would do their best to defend their citizens while in public.

Reading up on Stand Your Ground law history explains why some feel the laws needed to be updated. Without Stand Your Ground laws, if an American is out in public his or her only legal option is to run away. 17th century laws did not take into account the possibility of running away from gunfire. In some cases, victims who potentially could have retreated are prosecuted, even if the only feasible escape is through a window of their own home. Some states require warning shots to be fired, or at least wait for the attacker to begin the first attack.

For example, one California man who didn’t retreat was sued by a burglar who shot him in the jaw first before he returned fire. Another burglar died when breaking into a bar and the family successfully sued for damages. Interestingly enough, there is a rumor that in 1983 a member of Trayvon Martin’s family may have defended himself with logic eerily similar to the Stand Your Grounds laws by claiming “he had no duty to retreat in his own home and that he was entitled to meet force with force.”

Led by the NRA, in 2005 Florida became the first state to enact a Stand Your Ground law. Many states quickly followed, although there are variations between the 31 states. The Stand Your Ground laws basically says that any American not engaged in any unlawful activity may “meet force with force,” including the use of deadly force. The Stand Your Ground law does not require a person to retreat if they are in a public place, which is where the law got its name.

Studies of the Stand Your Ground law’s impact on states claim “Florida saw an uptick in murders and nonnegligent manslaughters.” But other states have shown declines or no change at all after passing Stand Your Ground laws. Yet another claim says there is a racial bias to Stand Your Ground laws because if the shooter is white and the target is black there is a 354 percent chance of the white shooter being found not guilty. This is compared to the statistic of 250 percent when considering states with no Stand Your Ground laws, although this analysis did not consider the circumstances under which the shootings took place.

What do you think about the Stand Your Ground law’s history? Do you think such “shoot first” laws should be repealed or at least updated in consideration of the scenario presented by the George Zimmerman trial and racial bias in general?

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9 Responses to “Stand Your Ground Law History Prior To George Zimmerman Trial”

  1. Brian V. Sitterley

    Eric Holder and his boss are very frustrated by the fact that such laws are in the hands of state legislators and voters, and they can't do anything about it. They sputter, pontificate, express outrage, whatever foolishness they like, but our federal system makes this miserable pair pretty ineffectual. A good reminder that law-abiding blacks have the same rights as any other law-abiding citizen, and given the horrific rate of black victimization by criminals, honest blacks need to be able to defend themselves.