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Letter: Misplaced frustration

After reading “Five views: race, guns, ‘Stand Your Ground’ ” (Monitor Forum, July 23), I noticed some misplaced anger and frustration surrounding the Trayvon Martin- George Zimmerman saga.

Those who oppose “Stand Your Ground” should look at the law and what it is supposed to do. It is designed to protect the average Joe’s right to be in public and mind his own business without fear of grave bodily harm and/or death. Yet, should that fear become a reality, Joe is allowed to defend himself or a third party.

The law is not designed to allow a wannabe cop to pursue someone he deems suspicious, initiate a confrontation and then use deadly force to end that confrontation. The issue shouldn’t be with the law but with the enforcement of the law.

Once a person stops standing and starts covering ground in order to cause grave bodily harm and/or death, it has become a crime and not a defense.

I also take issue with the idea that a “pro-gun” culture caused this tragedy. How about the “Excessive Force” and “Your Rights Don’t Matter Because I Have a Badge” culture?

The use of unnecessary force by U.S. law enforcement officers is a growing epidemic. A quick look at the plethora of citizen-made videos on YouTube showcases the callousness and contempt of law enforcement toward the Bill of Rights (including due process, search and seizure, and self-incrimination).

So if an in-shape, trained, armed officer of the law can hurt, shoot or even kill an unarmed citizen because he feels his safety has been threatened, why couldn’t a vigilante neighborhood watcher?

The roots of the issues in this case need to be addressed, not just the political hot-potatoes passed around from pundit to pundit.



Legacy Comments9

No neighborhood watches, eliminate the freedom to carry a gun, get rid of Stand Your Ground, etc. We can always count on the police to be there in our time of need, after the fact. Criminals will love this. They will never have to worry about any resistance to committing the crimes they want to commit. All you women out there who are worried about your safety in a parking garage or at home alone, keep in mind that is the Dems that want to limit your choices of protecting yourself.

The jury spoke, the decision was made, just like thousands of cases every single day. The Justice Department and Obama and race merchants like Sharpton are just demagogues playing politics. The bottom line is NOT race or skin, it is behavior and attitude of certain groups in our society. Rappers and "gangstas" are poor examples for African American youth and it perpetuates the attitude which is so bitter, hateful and angry and thus, we have this kind of incident. Let's be honest, it is about "attitude" and a chip on the shoulders of those being stirred up by race peddlers and politicians for power and political gain.

@Tillie: You're missing the obvious. Between out of control cops and vigilantes it is starting to feel like we live in Somalia. And a nation of laws? You meet like the Patriot Act and all it's secret tentacles that allows our own government to spy on each and everyone of us? This country has fallen a long way in the last 35 years; we are no longer the "leader of the free world", we've fallen way behind in that respect.

Tille, As a soc/left - you are totally dependent on people on other people to care for your safety/security. Without people who think like GZ - would be lost and nothing but "prey" for criminals. Be thankful the are there. Remember, the police are not about justice and have no obligation to protect you.Much as I respect the police, nothing in their brief training imbues them with Solomon like judgement. Many/most citizen's (vigilantes in your speak) are at least or more capable. Do you know where the term vigilante came from? They were ordinary Roman citizens who stood watch for their communities. and all Roman where armed.

I'm not sure how the "Stand Your Ground" law entered into the Zimmerman case to begin with. His lawyers didn't use it. This was a case of just plain self defense.

Yes it was self defense, but self defense is not an excuse for murder. The bible says thou shalt not kill. There is no asterisk saying "unless". If Zimmerman had a right to kill Trayvon in self defense, then Trayvon had an equal right to kill Zimmerman. That is why lethal force is never authorized, under any circumstances. You can defend yourself, but not at the expense of anyone else's life.

Self Defense as an excuse? If someone is attacking you, you do have the right to defend yourself. Otherwise what is the point of having that right of defense, if that defense states you cannot stop that attack with any object, be it a gun, a rock, or anything you can find? You have no defense. That notion of watering down defense, puts you at a disadvantage if your attacker is bigger than you and stronger, say a man attacking a woman when he outweighs her. If I am a criminal and I know I can attack a woman in a parking garage, and not have to worry about her having a gun, than I pretty much have an easy path to commit my crime. She cannot defend herself size wise, and if she is not allowed to carry a gun for defense, than I pretty much can do what I want to her, be it rape, robbery or kill her to make sure she cannot identify me. Advantage criminal, victim is screwed.

The "Stand Your Ground" law entered into the Zimmerman case and every other case in FL because it changed the instructions juries are given when deliberating. Prior to the 2005 law these were the instructions given to a jury: "The defendant cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force. The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force." http://mediamatters.org/research/2013/07/16/media-neglect-that-stand-your-ground-is-centerp/194916 By their very nature, SYG laws remove the concept of retreat to avoid the need to use deadly force. Thus the Zimmerman jurors were given these instructions: "If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in anyplace where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/07/15/2301621/why-stand-your-ground-is-central-to-george-zimmermans-case-after-all/

So let me get this straight. You see no difference between a trained officer and a vigilante? This is frightening stuff. We are a nation of laws. Now. Should we turn into a Somolia ? With war lords and neighborhoods watched by vigilantes who are trigger happy and feel they can do what they want because they have a stand your ground law behind them? If for some reason a court does say, opps, no can't use that law too bad for your victim he is already dead.

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