Florida lawmaker pushes to make ‘stand your ground’ a secret law

Most of us are quite aware of the controversial “stand your ground law” of Florida which states that if a person feels threatened in an incident they can use deadly force.

The individual also has no duty to retreat in this case.

The law has made it difficult to prosecute individuals suspected of a killing to harsher sentences due to the fact that it’s hard to prove to a juried court that someone didn’t fear for their lives. Because fear cannot be quantified, it makes the job of the prosecution that much more difficult to prove this person acted outside of the bounds of reason.

What makes things even more difficult is that a suspected individual could have started an altercation that ended up deadly, but still might not be convicted of murder because the person they initially confronted fought back. So this begs the question, “Who does or doesn’t have the right to defend themselves?”

In the case of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, did Martin have the right to defend himself? According to the cour and SYGt, that’s a resounding no.

In the case of Michael Dunn in the shooting of Jordan Davis in Florida, Dunn was not charged with first-degree murder despite Dunn or any occupant in the car possessing a weapon or confronting him. Dunn on the other hand made the case that he feared for his life and that he heard Dunn make a death-related threat aimed at Dunn (How Dunn overheard a remark like this and was able to link it Davis seems like a stretch).

Also, we have the case of Marissa Alexander of Florida. Alexander, who is a black (also it is important to note that the two biggest cases involving SYG were perpetrated by older white men onto unarmed black boys), shot a warning shot in the direction of her estranged husband and two of his children from a previous relationship.

Initially, the state of Florida sentenced Alexander to 20 years. She’s now attempting a retrial and the state has promised that if she if found guilty again, she will serve 60 years in prison (three consecutive 20-year sentences).

This law continues to draw criticism because of the precedent it sets in painting unarmed blacks as violent and black women’s arguments that claim the same justification as their white male counterparts as being just overblown paranoia.

Now, Florida Rep. Matt Gates (R-Fort Walton Beach) wants to limit the media’s access to court documents that involve SYG. Gates wants to limit access to court documents of those found innocent under the law. This amendment is huge because not only do courts rarely reveal whether or not SYG was used (because they know the controversy surrounding these cases), but those who are  found innocent under this law aren’t necessarily well-mannered, law-abiding citizens. Under the guise of protecting those who have been proven innocent by the court system, Gates wants to essentially bar access to an individuals history.

Gates and his backers want a secret law, but at the same time will make the case there’s nothing wrong with it.

What’s to stop us from creating a bill that limits the media’s coverage of rapes and sexual assaults because of the “controversy” these types of cases stir?

The NRA also backs this bill and says that it is protecting people who acted within the law to protect themselves. But if the law is flawed and its unintentional consequences are worse than the problems it purports to fix, then limiting access to information surrounding these cases allows those same injustices to perpetuate.

Out of sight, out of mind.

We as a society should want all of citizens to feel protected. If we are protecting one group at the expense of others, then the law does nothing but to serve the purpose of a judicial system that has a well-documented history of narrowly profiling and generalizing the same groups of people that SYG disproportionately hurts (and kills).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s