Gun Control VS Gun Rights: Stand Your Ground Law Allows Felons To Arm Themselves?

As gun control laws and gun rights bills continue to duke it out in the political arena, some reports are claiming a recent court decision in regards to the Stand Your Ground law may allow felons to arm themselves with a weapon.

In a related report by The Inquisitr, gun rights in Washington D.C. were restored after the House essentially nixed the local gun control laws. In the same time frame, Democrats responded by pushing a bill that would outlaw firearm brands on kid’s clothing in addition to making colorful guns illegal. The political debate got even more ridiculous lately when it was said that Planet Of The Apes was really about gun control, Stephen King said it was time to regulate firearms, churches began giving away AR-15’s, and there’s even a gun control video that uses dildos and kids to advertise gun safety.

The Stand Your Ground law primarily became controversial because of the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman trial. In fact, the incident caused the NAACP to create a wish list for so-called Trayvon Martin gun control laws they hoped would prevent future deaths. Although the Zimmerman trial in fact relied on self defense, and not Stand Your Ground, an investigation into the gun rights law determined Stand Your Ground actually helps more black people than white, with reports claiming that “black defendants went free about 66 percent of the time in fatal Stand Your Ground cases, compared to 61 percent for white defendants.”

The controversial nature of Stand Your Ground in relation to competing gun control laws continues to assert itself with the way the fight over these laws are reported. For example, the Tampa Tribune recently wrote:

“[T]he Florida Supreme Court allowed an appellate court decision involving a ‘stand your ground’ defense to stand. The result: A man who shot and killed two unarmed people never had to face a jury of his peers. And this week, an appellate court in Palm Beach County decided a convicted felon illegally in possession of a firearm could use ‘stand your ground’ as a defense after shooting another man during an altercation.”

The Sun Sentinel also reported the court decision in a similar manner:

“Gun-toting felons have the same rights as law-abiding citizens to use the Stand Your Ground law to avoid criminal charges, according to a new appeals court ruling. Reversing an opinion from 2012, the 4th District Court of Appeal said Wednesday a felon from Riviera Beach now can try to get his 2009 aggravated battery with a firearm charge dismissed under the controversial self-defense law.”

The short version is that in 2009, convicted felon Harvey Hill was attacked on his front porch, and he defended himself with a firearm. Florida prosecutors charged Hill with aggravated battery with a firearm, and his lawyers attempted to use Stand Your Ground in order to get the charges dismissed. But Stand Your Ground has a “presumed justification for use of force in certain circumstances like home or car invasion” and purposefully excludes scenarios involving illegal activities. Since, as a felon, Hill did not legally own the gun, his Stand Your Ground claim was blocked.

Instead of giving up, Hill’s lawyers changed their approach and, like the Zimmerman trial, relied only on Florida’s pre-existing self defense laws, which requires defendants to show they were justified in using force. Technically, it sounds like traditional self defense is under debate, not Stand Your Ground specifically, even though the two issues are often conflated. While Hill is still liable for being a felon in possession of a firearm, some lawyers believe the court’s decision essentially means that a “convicted felon in an emergency can temporarily arm themselves, thus acting ‘lawfully’ to defend themselves or others.”

Do you think felons should be able defend themselves with firearms or do you believe a gun control law should nullify this scenario? What do you think about the Stand Your Ground law?