The tragedy in Sanford, Florida, last month is still tearing at the nation’s heart. An unarmed child just wanting to get some iced tea and candy is dead. Police cite a Florida law as the reason the shooter is not arrested.
In 2005 Florida changed its gun carry license law to effectively remove a provision that requires the carrier to attempt to withdraw before use of deadly force is considered justified. That law now allows one to “stand their ground”. I believe that law change is fine. I should have the right to defend myself where I am. If someone is specifically approaching me with a deadly threat, I would want to be able to end it, rather than face the added risks of having to take other actions I otherwise should never be forced to take, which can also put me and my family at greater risk because of too much to be attentive to.
This change is what is being cited by Sanford Police for not making an arrest of George Zimmerman in this case. And some are calling for the 2005 change to be repealed, while others are even going so far as to demand a repeal of gun carry laws.
However, George Zimmerman was not standing his ground or retreating. He was actually pursuing Trayvon Martin. He followed the person he said “looked suspicious” and did so contrary to what the police dispatcher he spoke with said to do. He was told not to pursue and to meet police. His neighborhood watch duties had been fulfilled. Zimmerman was therefore not meeting the requirements of the self-defense protection benefits in the law as it stood on that day.
None of this justifies repealing any provisions of Florida’s gun carry law. It does, though, justify making an arrest in the case, at least for the 24 hours to get a judge to decide if he should continue to be held. But if not arrested, at the very least his gun permit and neighborhood watch duties should be suspended (I do not know if they have or not).
In the mean time, the US Justice Department will be investigating this. That much is a good development. And my heart goes out to Trayvon’s family for such a senseless loss of a good kid.