Florida murder shines light on “stand your ground” law

Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Jillian Lopez

Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press
Credit: Aysen Tan/The Foothill Dragon Press

Never before has a hooded sweatshirt meant life or death, and never before has a bag of skittles and an Arizona Ice Tea been the reason to take someone’s life. However, the concept of racial profiling is not new to the headlines.

Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American male, was walking home through a gated community complex when he was shot by community watch coordinator George Zimmerman in late February.

Martin was strolling home after a trip to the convenience store, when Zimmerman pursued Martin, convinced that he would commit a criminal act based on his attire and visage. Against the advice of the police, Zimmerman continued to follow Martin. At the end of an encounter, Trayvon Martin was shot 70 meters away from the townhouse he was staying at.

This is not a story of neighborhood protection, criminal prevention, or “self defense.” And it seems as though this shooting is one based off of racial profiling. Being an African American juvenile, wearing a hood, and walking at night through a nice public area is all that Zimmerman needed to justify pulling that trigger.

However, with Florida’s loose gun protection laws, and citizens’ lack of education about these laws, it can be difficult to push full responsibility on the individual.

Not only has this case triggered a nationwide debate about race in America, but also it has questioned Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows deadly force to play out, in response to a “reasonable threat of death or serious injury.” This law provides shooters a lot of wiggle room to claim that a killing was self-defense.

What this law does prohibit, however, is murdering an unarmed man with no evidence or reason to do so. Therefore, Zimmerman should not be able to hide behind this law because his actions clearly do not reflect the intentions behind making this law. For him to use this as an excuse makes Zimmerman seem cowardly and unwilling to admit that he made a mistake.

He took Martin’s because he was black, not because he was a threat to his, or anybody else’s life. He used a stereotype as a reason, and a pro-gun law as an excuse.

It sickens me to know that his guilt is being questioned. Martin was no threat, and Zimmerman deserves to go to jail because of his wrongful assumption and profiling towards Martin. It’s as simple at that. There is no loophole, no way around it. When you take somebody’s life, you should spend yours in confinement, and Zimmerman thinking that he can avoid that consequence because of the “stand your ground” law is disappointing.

However, the “stand your ground” law is just one of many of Florida’s pro-gun laws. The lack of regulation for gun permits in Florida has earned it the nickname “The Gunshine State.” 

These facts raise the question about whether or not Zimmerman should have been permitted to even carry a gun. With Florida practically handing out gun permits, it’s hard to tell if there are even qualifications, or certain requirements to obtain the license to own a gun. Now, people who “rightfully” own a gun are the same people can be the same people who profile others.

There is no doubt that Trayvon Martin’s death is Zimmerman’s full responsibility, but Florida’s loose gun laws, and “stand your ground” law definitely contribute Zimmerman’s belief that he can get away with it. These laws are not protecting anybody; in fact, they are endangering more lives everyday, and providing murderers with an excuse and a murder weapon to get off the hook with. 

It’s frightening to know that these laws can contribute to the liberation of a guilty person, but even more frightening that it contributes to the death of a young man who was simply walking home from a convenience store. Hopefully justice will strike down on George Zimmerman and raise awareness on a loophole-infested law.   


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