As I have mentioned, we will be moving to Florida at the end of this summer. The same state in which a young man, Trayvon Martin, was recently shot and killed by a man for ‘looking suspicious’ (if you haven’t heard about this horrible crime, click here for further info) The entire country has been in uproar over not only the incident itself, but also because the killer- a man who admitted to shooting Trayvon- has not been arrested. Or anything else, really. He basically told police when they arrived at the scene of the crime that he had acted in self-defense and the police said (not literally): “Fair enough. That seems true to us.” and left the murderer a free man.
I won’t go too far into the case itself, nor into the terrible racial problems it has once again brought to the surface for us to view in all its ugliness. Right now I just want to focus on how this whole incident can have happened- I mean, what went wrong in the judicial system that the killer, a certain George Zimmerman, gets to chill out on his couch (not literally, since he’s not a popular man right now, but you get what I’m saying) while the young Trayvon, who had his entire life before him, is no longer on this planet.
Shockingly, George Zimmerman wasn’t breaking the law.
You’re probably re-reading that sentence, just to make sure. It’s the truth- the Florida justice system protects people like him with their Stand-your-ground laws. Don’t believe it? Neither did I. Here is the 2011 FL Statute 776.012:
Use of force in defense of person.- A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or
(2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013.
I hope you read it very carefully. It basically protects people from facing criminal charges as long as they “reasonably believe” that someone else is a threat to them. WHAT?!? Since when does it matter what people believe??? How can this have any place whatsoever in law? I am baffled and stunned.
Here an example of how ridiculous this law is: Let’s say I’m going to the grocery store one evening. Just me, without the kids. I’m in a bad mood and the driver in front of me is being an idiot on the road. I honk at him/her. Unfortunately, they park right next to me at the store and I can’t help uttering a smart remark such as: “Get off your phone and DRIVE!” I then proceed to rummage around in my purse in the parking lot for an item. The other person I just yelled at BELIEVES that I am in the process of looking for my gun because I seem angry and shoots me. He/she can go home and eat some ice cream on their couch while I’m now no longer alive.
Please, people, tell me that you don’t think this law is a good idea! Reasonable belief needs to be removed from the justice system- it just cannot have a rational place in law. Who cares what someone believes or feels? No offense, but a lot of people are idiots! We shouldn’t make it even easier for them to kill others.
Even more ridiculous is the fact that these people who have used some sort of force- be it deadly or not- against another human being because they ‘believed’ that they were in danger enjoy IMMUNITY from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force, thanks to Statue 776.032. Not only are they going to continue to enjoy their freedom despite harming another person, they cannot be arrested for it- not even for the purpose of questioning.
I won’t lie, this law terrifies me. It makes me not want to move to Florida. It makes me not want to live in a place in which people have permission to kill me if they ‘believe’ that I am trying to harm them. Does nobody else see how bizarre this is?!?