A 17-year-old boy is dead, shot by a neighborhood vigilante who decided that he would take the law into his own hands. Now, Trayvon Martin's killer will walk free -- because a jury of his peers determined that it was legal for him to murder an innocent teenager in the name of "self-defense."
George Zimmerman faced no charges for more than a month after the shooting thanks to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which states that murder is justified in the name of protecting oneself at any cost, even if conflict is avoidable. And though his trial eventually hinged on self-defense rather than "Stand Your Ground," so long as laws like these are on the books, vigilante violence will continue, often with no consequences.
How many innocent people like Trayvon have to die in the name of paranoia before we learn that these laws only lead to bloodshed?
25 states have already adopted such laws despite their demonstrated danger. Tell all states to repeal or reject "Stand Your Ground" laws before more people are murdered for presenting imaginary threats.
We, the undersigned, believe that citizens' rights to self-defense are being distorted by these so-called "stand your ground" laws.
Certainly if such laws can be misconstrued to defend vigilante acts like the one George Zimmerman committed against Trayvon Martin, a defenseless black youth, the laws are flawed and should be rejected, and if necessary, replaced with those that do not encourage indiscriminate use of weapons and other forms of violence.
It is important to protect one's right to self-defense and defense of home and family, but others have rights, including freedom from stalking and unjustified assault and murder, and laws must be written in ways that balance these rights.
We ask that other states consider the alarming rise of so-called "justifiable homicides" in Florida since it adopted its "stand your ground." Please reject any attempts to push these flawed and violent laws on your state and repeal any existing ones.
Thank you for your attention to these serious concerns.
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