By now, everyone has heard the story of Trayvon Martin, the young black man killed by a neighborhood watchman in a gated Florida community. Aside from the shooting’s racial undertones, there are serious questions about the Sanford, FL who police didn’t bother to investigate the shooter’s claim that he was acting in self-defense. There is ample evidence to raise doubt about the shooter’s claim.
The actions of the police, and perhaps the shooter, have happened in the context of Florida’s stand-your-ground law, a statute which permits a person who feels threatened to use deadly force without attempting to retreat first. Homeowners perceiving a threat to their safety within their homes have a right to use deadly force under the Castle Doctrine. Stand Your Ground extends that right to the public sphere. If a person perceives that they are threatened, they can use deadly force and claim the right to self-defense.
The State of Florida has the blood of Trayvon Martin on its hands, and if some of our state legislators have their way, Massachusetts gun owners will have the right to shoot first in public and ask questions later. The Springfield Republican reports:
BOSTON – A state senator from Western Massachusetts is advocating for a bill that would expand a person’s right to use deadly force in self-defense without first making an attempt at a retreat.
Under the legislation by Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, a Barre Democrat, the state would expand its current “Castle Doctrine,” which says a person has no duty to retreat from intruders at home before using deadly force.
Brewer’s bill would expand that Castle principle to using deadly force in public anyplace the person has a right to be. The principle is called theStand Your Ground Principle. More than two dozen states have passed either the Castle Doctrine, Stand Your Ground or both, according to the Associated Press.
Florida’s “stand your ground law” is receiving new scrutiny after a 17-year-old, unarmed black man was shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain in a gated community. The captain is claiming self-defense during a confrontation.
Under Brewer’s bill, called Senate 661, or an Act Relative to the Common Defense, people could use deadly force, or less than deadly force, in self-defense and in public to defend others any place they have a right to be. There would be no duty to retreat from any place that they have a right to be.
“It’s just a matter of protecting yourself under strictly-defined circumstances,” said Brewer, who is chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee. “I don’t think anybody wants to go back to the Wild West.”