Travyon Martin's Death And 'Stand Your Ground' Laws
1 year ago
The dangers of these laws and gun violence in America
The tragic death of 17-year old Trayvon Martin has raised serious questions about race issues in the United States. The theory of a post-racial America, which many pundits proclaimed countless times shortly after President Obama’s election, seems to carry even less weight now.
Of course, Martin’s death has not been the only cause for intensified discussions about race and inequality. These societal problems are crucial and call for honest public debates that allow all Americans to assess race matters in this country.
But Martin’s untimely death points to another significant issue, and one that many Americans are not aware of: Stand Your Ground laws. When it comes to race and states that have a menacing history of racial violence, these laws are even more worrisome.
So, what exactly are Stand Your Ground laws?
These laws, which are on the books in 23 states, permit a person to use deadly force if they reasonably judge that they are facing a bodily threat. In some cases, such as in the state of Florida, the person under threat does not have the “duty to retreat.” Some state laws indicate the duty to retreat, meaning that the person who is under attack can be prosecuted if they use force and kill or injure the alleged attacker when alternative responses (“retreat”) are available. Florida does not have this stipulation. Moreover, most states have a law that allows this form of self-defense in the home, but the Stand Your Ground law goes beyond the boundary of a person’s property. This allows individuals to defend themselves in public spaces.