Trayvon Martin Shooting Renews Florida 'Stand Your Ground' Debate
After the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, Florida Legislature is renewing the debate on the 2005 "Stand Your Ground" Laws allowing residents to use deadly force to protect themselves no matter where they are.
What is the 2005 "Stand Your Ground" Law?
The law allows people to use deadly force away from their homes -- where such force has long been allowed -- if they have reasonable fear an assailant could seriously harm them or someone else.
It also eliminated a longstanding "duty to retreat" in the face of imminent harm, asserting that would-be crime victims have the right to "stand their ground" and "meet force with force" when attacked.
It won with the strong endorsement of the National Rifle Association, or NRA, which at the time said it put the law "on the side of law-abiding citizens."
Since its enactment, it has been frequently cited in incidents ranging from a 2006 incident in which a man sprayed a vehicle carrying a known gang member with 14 bullets to the 2011 case of a man who was cleared under "stand your ground" after stabbing a man in the head with an ice pick during a road rage incident, according to legal and media accounts.
In the five years before the law's approval, Florida averaged 12 justifiable homicides a year, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In the six years since, the average is 33.
"The law is constructed to give law-abiding people the right to protect themselves when they are attacked," she said at the time. "I think the message to criminals is going to be -- you break into a home, you run the risk of being shot. You attack people on the street, you run the risk of being shot." A gun control activist said... the issue isn't self-defense. "The question is whether you can provoke confrontation and then shoot to kill,"
That's precisely what Trayvon's father, Stacy Martin, believes Zimmerman did when he followed the teenager as he walked, then ran, down the street in the gated community where he was staying.