By Curt Anderson and Lindsay Whitehurst | Related press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The “stand your ground” self-defense law has been in effect in Florida for more than six years when it became part of the national lexicon with the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012. When he was 17 years old. Shot dead, Florida remains one of the few states with laws that waive the obligation to withdraw before using deadly force in the face of danger.
More than 30 states now have some form of law, and recent research shows they’re linked to more deaths — 700 more gun homicides each year, according to a published study. this week in the journal JAMA Network Open.
The study found that the national homicide rate increased by 11 percent per month between 1999 and 2017 in states with “stand by” laws. The study found the biggest increases, between 16% and 33%, were in Southern states including Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana.
The study’s authors conclude: “These findings suggest that the adoption of the law (“take the stand”) across the United States is associated with an increase in violent deaths, death could have been avoided”.
Advocates of the laws, especially the National Rifle Association, have argued that they act as a deterrent to crime by ensuring a person can protect himself and others against the attacker will be attacked.
Florida was the first country to adopt the law in 2005. It went into effect when Martin was shot dead by self-appointed neighborhood keeper George Zimmerman on February 26, 2012. Martin was black; Zimmerman has a white father and a Hispanic mother.
Initial police reports said Zimmerman phoned authorities to report a suspicious person, someone who, according to him, “didn’t appear to be well.” He followed Martin despite instructions not to do so. In the ensuing confrontation, Zimmerman would report to authorities that Martin attacked him, forcing him to use a gun to save himself. Zimmerman is allowed his freedom.
Martin’s parents questioned Zimmerman’s version of events and eventually the media and others gathered information about the case. Zimmerman was arrested six weeks later after then-Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed a special prosecutor to the case.
Zimmerman’s attorneys chose not to pursue a pre-trial “stand his ground” request, which could result in the dismissal of the murder charges against him and immunity from prosecution. But the law was essentially used as his own defense in the trial, leaving him acquitted.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was involved in the Martin case, called the Florida law “a virtual exit card that is essentially a murder license.”
Today the battle is fierce. Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Fund, said gun rights advocates argue that people should not try to withdraw before defending themselves. He pointed to a Florida homeowner who recently shot dead a man suspected of shooting a police officer when he tried to break into his home. While that case could be governed by other self-defense laws, Gottlieb said the “stand your ground” law provides reassurance.
“It makes a huge difference in self-defense situations,” he said.
Three new states passed legislation last year removing the duty to withdraw: Ohio, Arkansas and North Dakota, where its sponsor said the law “makes sure someone won’t have to run away before defending themselves or their families.”
Six more requirements were relaxed for carrying guns in public by removing the requirement for a permit, the largest number of the year. More than 20 states currently allow unlicensed carrying.
The U.S. Supreme Court is also expected to rule during the session on whether New York’s gun licensing laws violate Second Amendment rights to “keep and carry firearms.” gas” or not. Defenders of the law have said attacking it would lead to more guns on the streets of cities including New York and Los Angeles.
Gun control activists say the growing presence of guns and laws like “stand your ground” is a deadly combination.
Representative Lucy McBath, who entered politics after her son Jordan, said: “Laws like ‘stand your ground,’ or the first law, for people like Jordan’s killer, who killed my son. , the idea that you can shoot first and ask questions later. Davis was killed at a Florida gas station in 2012 by a white man who was angered by the loud music of the Black teenager and his friends playing in their car. Michael Dunn used the “stand his ground” law in his defense, but was found guilty and is serving a life sentence.
Similarly, Rovina Billingslea’s family has never been the same. Her cousin Jasmine McAfee, a mother of two, was killed at the hands of a partner near Orlando about four years ago. The shooter was later acquitted under the “stand firm” law, leaving her family reeling.
“There is no justice, no closure, just pain,” Billingslea said.
There are new efforts to roll back the measures amid rising gun violence: Lawmakers from 19 states have signed off on creating a new task force to amend or repeal the law, specifically in Georgia, Kansas and Pennsylvania, as well as Florida. The push is supported by Everytown’s Gun Safety and Maternal Action Act, whose founder Shannon Watts said they should be called “first shot laws” because they differ significantly from the laws of nature. other defenders already in the book.
Since Martin’s murder, Florida has revised its “stand your ground” law to shift the burden of proof from the person claiming the right to self-defense to the prosecutor handling the case.
Prosecutors and many police organizations have opposed the laws, saying they can protect criminals and hinder their ability to bring justice to deadly shootings.
David LaBahn, president and chief executive officer of the Public Prosecution Bar Association, said: “The ‘stand-alone’ laws provide a safe haven for criminals and prevent prosecutors from prosecuting cases. against those who claim to be in self-defense after needlessly killing or injuring another” Conference.
In Florida, a trial is underway in which a retired police captain is charged with murder in the 2014 shooting death of a man in a movie theater, initially based on the statement ” stand your ground”. A judge dismissed that claim against the former captain, Curtis Reeves, and that was upheld on appeal.
Reeves, however, still claimed to be defending himself in the murder of Chad Oulson after a dispute over Oulson’s cell phone use during movie previews. The shooting happened after Oulson threw a bag of popcorn at Reeves.
So far, that hasn’t qualified as a “stand your ground” defense.
“The evidence will show there is no reason to kill another person,” Assistant State Attorney Scott Rosenwasser said in a statement opening this week. “This was an intentional and purposeful shooting.”
Whitehurst reports from Salt Lake City.
https://www.mercurynews.com/2022/02/25/stand-your-ground-laws-proliferate-after-trayvon-killing/ The Law of ‘Stand Your Side’ Thrives After Killing Trayvon