How can we allow someone to escape liability for killing a total stranger he stalked, chased, and confronted, based solely on the killer’s word? It is not logical to allow a person to commit a homicide and then turn around and allow them to speak for the deceased party whom they just killed. “Stand Your Ground” thus rewards killers for silencing their victims and claiming the deceased party was the aggressor in the matter.
“Stand Your Ground” was also a factor in the way in which the jury in our son’s case applied the law. In Trayvon’s case, Juror B37 specifically mentioned “Stand Your Ground” multiple times in explaining her decision to set Trayvon’s killer free. The laws relating to self-defense, which determine the guilt or innocence of killers, should be clear and easily understood by those tasked with applying them.
Everyone should be able to feel safe walking in public without fear that someone might randomly stalk, confront and kill them and get away with it because they are not around to tell the court what happened. When enacting legislation, it would be wise to follow the medical principle to “first do no harm”. If “Stand Your Ground” is causing more unnecessary deaths and enabling people to get away with murder, it should be fixed. What choice are we making as a community and as a nation with these laws — life or death? Sadly, Trayvon is one of many young people whose lives were taken by violence.
The “Stand Your Ground” law is important in the tone it sets and the message it sends. When an armed adult sees a minor in his neighborhood who he thinks does not belong, do we want the adult to follow him with a gun? When people can easily avoid a confrontation, do we want the law to empower them to go looking for one? Are we a nation that values the rights and lives of our children or not? Do we want laws that protect our children from gunmen, or do we want laws that protect gunmen from accountability?
I am a mother, not a lawyer or a legislator. I don’t pretend to know all the details of the law, policy or politics surrounding “Stand Your Ground”. What I do know, and what I am reminded of every day, is that my son was murdered. He was walking home with a snack and minding his own business when a stranger stalked him, chased him after he ran, confronted him and finally killed him. I believe in my heart that “Stand Your Ground” shares responsibility for what has happened to my family. Our family has dedicated our lives to changing “Stand Your Ground” laws in the hope that other families might be spared what we have gone through.
Many terrible injustices were considered “legal” at one time or another, but then people saw the light and changed the law. In America in 2013 it is my belief that the people that you represent do not wish to see immorality justified with legality. To safeguard life and the liberties that we all appreciate so much, we must remain eternally vigilant against the great dangers of legalized injustice.