Dear Commons Community,
The case of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old African-American student, who was shot last month as he walked home one night has stirred national outrage and protests. All the facts of the case are not known but it appears that once again loose gun control, racial profiling, and so-called Stand Your Ground laws (SYG) set the stage for this tragedy. The New York Times has an editorial that reviews the issues of SYG:
“The local police in Sanford, Fla., ruled the shooting justifiable under a (SYG) law that was created to give the benefit of the doubt to people who shoot their guns in public areas and then claim self-defense. This statute goes well beyond the traditional principles of self-defense in homes. In 2005, Florida became the first in the nation to adopt this type of measure, with overwhelming bipartisan approval and the signature of Gov. Jeb Bush.
Since the enactment of the law, claims of justifiable homicide tripled in Florida, according to state data. “It’s almost insane what we are having to deal with,” Willie Meggs, the state attorney in Tallahassee, declared this week. Self-defense is being invoked in everything from gang shootings to backyard disputes between neighbors, with prosecutors left to disprove the shooters’ claims. “
The editorial conclusion:
“Stand Your Ground laws are abominations that should be repealed. One obvious flaw among many is that slain victims can never tell their side of the story.”
Trayvon Martin surely will not be able to.