Stand Your Ground legalizes murder

By Lauren Ely |

Opinion G logoThe state of Florida may legally allow murderers to walk the streets.

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has come under scrutiny in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. The law says that when threatened, people do not have to retreat and may use deadly force in self-defense. However, in the Martin case, many believe the law is protecting a man who doesn’t deserve it.

In many instances where the Stand Your Ground law applies, there are no witnesses and it becomes a game of he said, she said.  When everyone tells a different story, how can you guarantee the law is applied properly?

You can’t.

The Stand Your Ground law can be found in the Florida statutes under Title XLVI, Chapter 776 §776.013, titled “Home protection; use of deadly force presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.” It reads, “A person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another.”

Laws should be made in the public’s best interest and to make people feel safe. The Stand Your Ground law can fulfill that purpose by simply changing one word in the statute – deadly.

If someone unlawfully enters a home, we should be expected to defend ourselves enough to call for help or escape. There are countless ways to achieve that end without the loss of any lives, and the fate of the lawbreaker should be left to the police and the courts.

When we make murder legal — why it is now in Florida — some will take advantage of it and we’ll see a rise in crime.

In fact, according to the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, since the Stand Your Ground law was passed in 2005, the rate of justifiable homicides has more than doubled in Florida. In 2010, there were approximately 20,000 justifiable homicides statewide compared to only 10,000 in 2005.

If we take one small word out of the Stand Your Ground law, it will drastically lessen the number of justifiable homicides in Florida. And murders, like Martin’s, will not be controversial because there is only one place that a murderer belongs.


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