We learned today that 21 states have so-called stand-your-ground laws like the Florida one that sent on his merry way the killer of an unarmed 17-year-old black youth — no muss, no fuss, no bother and still armed with his gun.
All self-appointed neighborhood watch vigilante George Zimmerman had to do to get away with murder was say he felt threatened, and the oh-so-accommodating cops of Sanford, Fla., were satisfied that Trayvon Martin, armed as he was with Skittles from a nearby 7-11, was the guilty party.
Being dead on the ground, young Martin couldn’t even make it his word against Zimmerman’s. How very neat and tidy.
In the aftermath, Martin’s body was checked for drugs and alcohol. Zimmerman underwent no such tests.
Here, from the USA Today story, is the attitude of a Florida legislator who sponsored the 2005 stand-your-ground law that was heartily endorsed and signed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.
“Every time you have an adverse incident, immediately the anti-gun faction will say this law is the problem,” (Rep. Dennis) Baxley said, adding that violent crime in Florida has dropped since its implementation. “As public policy, it is fulfilling its purpose and working well. The perpetrators know everyone has the right to defend themselves. … I think that has been a strong deterrent.”
Critics of the law cite a dramatic increase in the number of “justifiable homicides” in Florida, rising from 43 in 2005 to 105 in 2009, the last year for which complete statistics are available.
What Baxley and others who back his license-to-kill law should have to reckon with is that not all gun-toting citizens are pure of heart and law-abiding.
“You want to know how you can kill somebody legally in Florida?” says Arthur Hayhoe, executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Make sure you have no witnesses, hunt the person down and then say you feared for your life.”
Hayhoe says he has about a dozen cases on his desk now similar to Trayvon’s case. He says in those cases, gunmen say they were defending themselves and have not been charged, leaving grieving relatives to wonder why the shooters have not been charged.
As federal authorities undertake the investigation Sanford’s no-account police should’ve begun weeks ago when they were called to the scene, Sanford’s City Council has given the town’s police chief a vote of no confidence. On MSNBC’s The Last Word tonight, Sanford’s city manager said he’s weighing dismissal of the chief.
Better late than never.
The 21 states with stand-your-ground laws are: Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, W. Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Arizona and Alaska.
Pardon our partisanship, but we can’t help but notice the striking correlation of these no-fault-murder states to the nation’s roster of red states.
If stand-your-ground laws can’t be overturned in the courts, an effort should be launched in Congress to enact a constitutional amendment banning them. The United States has a horrendous track record of nut cases using their easily obtained guns to deal death to innocent people, facilitated by the Second Amendment fanaticism of a militant minority. That’s bad enough, but giving the mean of spirit, the paranoid and bigoted, bullies, jealous spouses and so on, carte blanche to set someone up, kill the targeted person and then walk away, is simply intolerable.
As for Zimmerman, who was heard on the 9-11 call recording the day he killed his prey, saying, “F—–g c–ns,” we’re curious.
We wonder if it has occurred to Zimmerman that if those black people he has such a problem with were as criminally inclined as he thinks they are, he would surely be as stone-cold dead by now as the unarmed teenage boy he murdered.