A reader sends a fascinating examination of how the new law has affected Florida. It’s from last month in the Tampa Bay Times but reads even more powerfully today. Money quote:
The number of [SYG] cases is increasing, largely because defense attorneys are using “stand your ground” in ways state legislators never envisioned. The defense has been invoked in dozens of cases with minor or no injuries. It has also been used by a self-described “vampire” in Pinellas County, a Miami man arrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myers homeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier.
People often go free under “stand your ground” in cases that seem to make a mockery of what lawmakers intended. One man killed two unarmed people and walked out of jail. Another shot a man as he lay on the ground. Others went free after shooting their victims in the back. In nearly a third of the cases the Times analyzed, defendants initiated the fight, shot an unarmed person or pursued their victim — and still went free.
No wonder Zimmerman felt able to stalk Martin. What did he have to lose when he could simply kill the dude anyway and get away with it? Worse, the law is subject to huge discrepancies depending on the case, the jury, the prosecutors, etc. It’s enforced with wild inconsistency, as illustrated in the above video.
To my mind, it’s a return to the Wild West, where murderers walk the streets with no fear and plenty of opportunities for gunning down foes, rivals, family members, exes, and on and on. It’s completely out of control:
Drug dealers have successfully invoked “stand your ground” even though they were in the middle of a deal when the shooting started. In Daytona Beach, for example, police Chief Mike Chitwood used the “stand your ground” law as the rationale for not filing charges in two drug deals that ended in deaths. He said he was prevented from going forward because the accused shooters had permits to carry concealed weapons and they claimed they were defending themselves at the time. “We’re seeing a good law that’s being abused,” Chitwood told a local paper.
No, we’re seeing a terrible law having completely predictable consequences. I note that the governor who signed this provision into law was Jeb Bush. Perhaps someone could ask him how he feels about it now?