The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) has released a video (below) about Stand Your Ground laws. The video is misleading on at least two counts.
Amanda Terkel from the Huffington Post reports that CSGV Communications Director Ladd Everitt stated, “‘Stand Your Ground’ laws have essentially legalized murder. With this PSA, we hope to add to the nationwide push to repeal these immoral laws.” There is no evidence that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has “legalized murder” unless one defines “murder” as self-defense. George Zimmerman was accused of murder in the second degree. During the trial Circuit Judge Debra Nelson allowed the jury to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter. Zimmerman was acquitted on both charges.
The CSGV video begins with a man, apparently Zimmerman, on a cell phone watching another man in a hoodie across the street. In the video the man while on the cell phone after talking with the police (actual 911 audio of Zimmerman used), reaches inside his jacket apparently to pull a gun. This scene is factually incorrect. Nothing in the Zimmerman trial shows this scenario happened. What the evidence did show is that Zimmerman did not draw his weapon until after he was on the ground with Trayvon Martin on top punching him. One shot was fired, killing Martin in self-defence.
The premise of the video is misleading because Florida’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) law was never used in the defense of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was tried and found not guilty on all charges because he acted in self-defense.
The Tampa Bay Times reviewed all the cases in Florida where SYG was used as a legal defense. The research found that Blacks are more likely to be protected by SYG than whites. The Times review found no indication those using SYG as a defense “got away with murder”.
The Huffington Post’s article by Terkel on the video is also misleading.
Terkel states, “Zimmerman cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as justification for killing Martin and authorities initially refused to arrest him.” The Zimmerman defense team waived the use of SYG at the beginning of the trial. According to the CFS New 13 Zimmerman trial timeline, “Feb. 29, 2012 – Sanford police say George Zimmerman was ‘serving in the role of neighborhood watch’ when the shooting happened.” Zimmerman was not arrested because during the review by law enforcement officials (the details of which came out during the trial) showed he committed no crime but acted in self defense.
The Sheriff did not refuse to arrest Zimmerman. In fact the opposite is true. Eliott C. McLaughlin from CNN reported:
The George Zimmerman investigation was hijacked “in a number of ways” by outside forces, said the former police chief of Sanford, Florida.
Bill Lee, who testified Monday in Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial, told CNN’s George Howell in an exclusive interview that he felt pressure from city officials to arrest Zimmerman to placate the public rather than as a matter of justice.
“It was (relayed) to me that they just wanted an arrest. They didn’t care if it got dismissed later,” he said. “You don’t do that.”
The French classical liberal theorist Claude Frédéric Bastiat wrote, “Finally, is not liberty the restricting of the law only to its rational sphere of organizing the right of the individual to lawful self-defense; of punishing injustice?” In reality the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is actually anti-self defense.
Self defense is a lawful act of liberty to act against violence and injustice. Those against self-defense are restricting liberty.
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence video: