Clint Eastwood was an American Icon. Sadly, he may be remembered for his appearance at the RNC, and his confused “empty chair” routine, rather than for the years of films he made that portrayed him as Dirty Harry.
“Go ahead, make my day” is the famous line from “Sudden Impact” . Eastwood is holding a gun on a criminal who has taken a hostage. Eastwood taunts the criminal suggesting that if he shoots his hostage, it won’t bother Clint that the hostage is dead. It will in fact “make his day” because Dirty Harry will then have an excuse to kill the criminal.
Sudden Impact was a fictional story about a rogue cop who fights for justice, even if his methods are harsh. The bad guys were easily identifiable, and by the time they died, the audience knew they deserved to die. Contrast that to real life. It’s not always clear who the bad guy is and who is the good guy. In the case of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is pretty clearly the bad guy. He had the gun, Martin was unarmed. Whether because Martin was black, wore a hoodie, Zimmerman didn’t recognize him, or perhaps Zimmerman just wanted someone to make his day, Zimmerman shot and killed Martin. Zimmerman has brought into focus the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida. It seems that there is no controversy that Zimmerman should not have shot Martin. The issue at trial will be whether Zimmerman was fearful for his life, and justified in believing that Martin posed a threat. If the jury believes Zimmerman’s story, he could be found not guilty, by reason of the stand your ground law. Zimmerman was wrong and the stand your ground law is wrong. Here’s why.
This is the Florida statute that codifies the “Stand Your Ground Law.”A review of the actual provisions of this statute reveals why Angela Corey, the prosecutor, must believe Zimmerman will not prevail when he asserts this defense. The statute expressly provides that the use of force under the statute is NOT available to any person who “Initially provokes the use of force against himself”
Twice in the last 60 days the stand your ground law in Florida has been used to justify the shooting of another person. The first person shot was a young black teen who was playing loud music in his car. Three weeks later, in Florida, a customer at a pizza restaurant was shot by another customer because the two had a disagreement over the amount of time that was reasonable for the restaurant employees to take to make a pizza.
Now a black Democrat has presented a bill before the Florida legislature to repeal the “stand your ground” law. The Republican dominated Florida legislature is unlikely to approve repeal of the law. Months ago the Florida Governor Rick Scott created a special task force to evaluate the stand your ground law. Not surprisingly, they determined that the law was just fine. This finding is contrary to several recent studies that found :
1. The stand your ground law doesn’t deter crime.
2. States that have a “stand you ground law” are associated with significant increses in homicides that are racially charged.
3. Homicides involving white shooters and black victims are 11 times more likely to be deemed “justifiable.”
Gov. Scott’s task force appears to have ignored these facts. They went so far as to endorse the law.
Here is the real problem with the stand your ground law. This law is an extension of the “Castle Doctrine.” The Castle Doctrine is an American legal doctrine that is designed to provide a sense of security within a person’s home. The notion that “a man’s home is his castle” is the fundamental concept upon which the law was based. In essence the Castle Doctrine was designed to give a person the un-controverted right to shoot an intruder in their home. The policy was that if an intruder breaks into your home, there should be no question that the homeowner is right, and the intruder is wrong. While the homeowner is supposed to show that he felt threatened, the presumption is that any homeowner whose house is being broken into, would feel threatened and should be allowed to use deadly force. The justification for the law seemed to be that if it was the homeowner who shot an intruder, there wouldn’t be any question about who was in the right, and who was the criminal, as obviously the intruder didn’t belong in the house where he was shot.
The Trayvon Martin case is an example of the problems inherent in expanding the Castle Doctrine beyond the walls of a person’s home. Once you move into the public, past the border of your home, it is less clear who is the aggressor, and who is the criminal. If the invasion of your home occurs, it seems inherent in the situation that a homeowner would feel threatened. However extending the law beyond the walls of your house, results in the jury having to base their verdict upon the testimony of the shooter, who simply says he felt threatened, and there is no other person left to testify, as he is dead. If the homeowner testifies that he felt threatened as the deceased broke into his home, the fact that there was an intruder in the shooters home lend credence to the story. The fact that the intruder is not there to testify is less troubling, as he was the intruder, and clearly in the wrong. The recent shooting of a black teenager driving while playing loud music, and the shooting in the pizza restaurant, are examples of the problem with application of this doctrine outside the home.
2left feet has provided a link for any Florida resident to demonstrate your support for repeal of the Stand Your Ground law. Thanks 2leftfeet for the link!