In the year since George Zimmerman followed, fought and killed unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been under national scrutiny. One of more than a dozen similar statues around the country, Florida’s law allows a civilian to use fatal force outside of his or her home if “he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.” Stand Your Ground also authorizes people to use deadly force if they “reasonably believe” that a violent felony is about to happen.
Critics, including Martin’s parents, have called Stand Your Ground laws (contained in Section 776 of Florida Statutes) an invitation for vigilante violence and civilian racial profiling. Despite widespread outrage over Martin’s slaying, a 19-member task force assembled by Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) has found no grounds to overturn the law.
The findings of the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection report released on February 22nd boil down to this: The problem doesn’t lay with the law but with some people who have tried to use it. From the report:
“The Task Force concurs with the core belief that all persons, regardless of citizenship status, have a right to feel safe and secure in our state. To that end, all persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be.” Read more here.
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