Friday, July 19, 2013

Stand Your Ground Laws & Disproportional Response

The verdict that freed George Zimmerman after he killed Travon Martin has generated some intense debate about gun rights and the freedom to react with deadly force to a perceived threat. My gut reaction to the verdict was unease, particularly because I don't agree with someone taking out a gun during a fist fight. The crux of this issue is the existence of Stand Your Ground Laws.  These laws originated out of "castle laws," which allow a person to use lethal force in response to a home intruder perceived to be a threat. However, it's my understanding that gun rights advocates actively pursued extending the right to use a gun in situations outside the home. And that seems risky at best, and quite dangerous at least. Certainly, there is research to indicate these laws increase violence, rather than mitigate it. People are, simply, more inclined to quickly resort to gun violence. In fact, areas that have these laws will have 30-40 more gun deaths for adult males than areas that don't. Clearly, the death of Travon Martin did not have to happen. And from my point of view, the altercation and death resulted from the stupid and irresponsible decisions of George Zimmerman. He simply shouldn't have followed Travon, he shouldn't have left his car, he shouldn't have carried a gun, and he shouldn't have taken it out and fired when a situation he created turned against him.

In a correlated issue in southeast Denver, a drunken - and unarmed - man was shot and killed by a resident who feared the would-be intruder was a threat to his home. The question, of course, is whether this man had to die.


unknownbuddhist said...

I think this was a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.

mmazenko said...

Thank you for the feedback. Let's hope for more pragmatic conversations.