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Scoot Blog: Are 'Stand Your Ground' Laws Good or Bad for America?

There are new questions about ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws that are now on the books in over 20 states.  Laws already allow citizens to use deadly force against intruders and to protect life and property, but ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws have eliminated the need to retreat if possible. Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws may encourage violence and “undermine public safety.”  

In a recent high-profile case in Texas, a retired Houston firefighter, Raul Rodriquez, killed a neighbor during an argument about a noisy party at the neighbor’s house.  Rodriquez went to Kelly Danaher’s home to confront her and during the argument, which was videotaped by Rodriquez, he is heard saying at one point, “My life is in danger now” and “these people are going to go try to kill me.” He also said, “I’m standing my ground here.”  

Rodriquez shot and killed his neighbor and injured two of her male friends.  In his defense he claimed that one of the males made a move that he felt was threatening.  But on the video, Rodriquez was obviously setting up his own defense by claiming his life was in danger and he was standing his ground.  The state of Texas has a ‘Castle Doctrine’ law, which is similar to ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws on the books in other states.  The judge, and the jury, did not buy his defense - Rodriquez was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Since the ‘Castle Doctrine’ law went into effect in Texas in 2007, the state has seen an increase of 16 fatal shootings over a 4 year period.  However, that doesn’t mean that other lives may not have been saved because citizens acted.

While the Zimmerman defense team did not use Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law in its defense, the law has attracted national attention.  From the first reporting of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, I have questioned whether George Zimmerman would have gotten out of his vehicle if he had not been armed.  If there are laws that give citizens the right to defend themselves, then the question is whether ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws protect citizens who go beyond protecting themselves.

Violent crime, even murder, among America’s youth has actually declined and is now at the lowest point since 1993, but the perception is that crime is up and many argue that we should all be armed to defend ourselves against the criminal element.  ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws have appeased those Americans who believe that citizens should have more legal protection in situations where guns are arguably used proactively.  But it’s fair to question whether these laws have also contributed to a ‘gun-happy’ America.

George Zimmerman was found ‘not guilty’ because the jury considered the case after Zimmerman got out of his vehicle, therefore his motive and past behavior were not part of their deliberations.

With complete respect for the Second Amendment and gun ownership in America and with respect for EVERY American’s right to defend themselves, ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws seem to feed a growing sense that citizens must become more aggressive in fighting crime.  Being more aggressive against crime can be a positive thing, but not if it encourages some ‘gun-happy’ citizens to aggressively take the law into their own hands or protect themselves when settling a confrontation that might otherwise have been averted by retreat.

Anyone who is too quick to stand behind a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law may be using the law to support a predisposed mentality that essentially supports gun violence and the use of guns as the only answer.

Tags :  
Topics : Law_Crime
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Locations : FloridaHoustonTexas
People : Eric HolderGeorge ZimmermanKelly DanaherRaul RodriquezTrayvon Martin

07/17/2013 12:13PM
Scoot Blog: Are 'Stand Your Ground' Laws Good or Bad for America?
Please Enter Your Comments Below
07/17/2013 9:38PM
Blacks benefit from Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law at disproportionate rate ...
While the race industry will continue to profit from this case as long as they can, most folks will move on and there will not be the energy to turn this case into a race war as some seek. Obama knows he blew it by injecting himself into the case and has backed off. Holder will string the race trouble makers along until this dies on the vine. Obama has to deal with the 2014 Congressional election and there will be some backlash from this over the way Holder and the race baiters have behaved. People of all races have grown weary of the extreme groups like the NAACP always playing the race card. You cannot have an honest discussion about race if you are white. You are not allowed. You will be called a racist. At some point you just throw your hands up and don't even try. The dirty little secret, among many in this case, is that blacks successfully benefit MORE from the Stand Your Ground Law in Florida than whites. Why take this away from blacks??? http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/16/blacks-benefit-from-florida-stand-your-ground-law-at-disproportionate-rate/
07/17/2013 9:49PM
Some over zealous folks drive like idiots and cause wrecks ... perhaps we should
ban cars and driving.
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