If George Zimmerman is ever charged in the vigilante murder to Trayvon Miller, he’s going to use the following as his defense. And, given the total irresponsibility of the Florida law, he will walk (from Mother Jones).
Florida also makes it easy to plead self-defense in a killing. Under then-Gov. Jeb Bush, the state in 2005 passed a broad “stand your ground” law, which allows Florida residents to use deadly force against a threat without attempting to back down from the situation. (More stringent self-defense laws state that gun owners have “a duty to retreat” before resorting to killing.) In championing the law, former NRA president and longtime Florida gun lobbyist Marion Hammer said: “Through time, in this country, what I like to call bleeding-heart criminal coddlers want you to give a criminal an even break, so that when you’re attacked, you’re supposed to turn around and run, rather than standing your ground and protecting yourself and your family and your property.”
Again, the Sunshine State was the trendsetter: 17 states have since passed “stand your ground” laws, which critics call a “license to kill” or a “shoot first” law. The law has been unpopular with law enforcement officers in Florida, since it makes it much more difficult to charge shooters with a crime and has regularly confounded juries in murder cases; many Orlando-area cops reportedly have given up investigating “self-defense” cases as a result, referring them to the overloaded state Attorney’s Office for action. A 2010 study by the Tampa Bay Times found that “justifiable homicides” had tripled in the state since the law went into effect.
Don’t be surprised if the state of Florida does nothing in this case, because its legislature and its governor pushed through a Medieval murder bill.
In 2010 an unarmed man was shot and killed at a park near Tampa in a dispute over skateboarding rules. The victim’s 10-year-old daughter watched her father die. A judge is currently considering whether the shooter merely stood his ground.
In 2008, a 15-year-old boy was killed during a shootout between two gangs in Tallahassee. Nobody was held accountable for the crime because a judge, citing the law, dismissed the charges.
And in January, a former Broward County sheriff’s deputy shot and wounded a homeless man inside a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop in Miami Lakes. He said the man was threatening him and his family. Police said charges were unlikely in that case as well.
In fact, the number of justifiable homicides has significantly increased since the law went into effect, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
If that’s the case, it seems the outcome will be that Zimmerman will be charged by the federal government on a civil rights violation or a hate crime. It’s possible he’ll avoid criminal prosecution in Florida, but there is some lawyer somewhere who’s looking at the civil courts and will bring a case against Zimmerman, the local Neighborhood Watch organization and the Sanford police department.
And the killing could end up being an issue in the national presidential campaign. As posted earlier, if Mitt Romney has to make a deal with one of his current opponents to get enough delegates for the nomination, one outcome would be that Rand Paul of Kentucky gets the nod for the vice presidential slot.
But if Romney doesn’t have to deal with his opponents, forget Ron’s son and consider the political calculus.
Hispanics are the fastest growing population group in the U.S. The Republican Party has gone out of its way this campaign to alienate that segment with its kick em’ out and build a wall red-meat immigration demands. Right now, the numbers show that Hispanics are overwhelmingly moving to Democrats and Obama.
So how does Romney stop that hemorrhage of voters?
He picks the U.S. senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, as his running mate. Rubio, of Cuban heritage, is a tea party favorite. If Romney picks a person with a Latin name as his Number Two, he stanches the bleeding. But Rubio offers more, since he’s from Florida, a swing state. Rubio turns it from leaning Democrat to leaning Republican. That means Obama has to spend more money to stay competitive, and Florida doesn’t look good for Democrats. The northern part of the state is essentially the Deep South. Retirees seem to be hostile to Obama. And the state was one of the hardest hit in the housing market collapse. Strategically, a Rubio pick makes a lot of sense for the GOP.
Some would say that Rubio has only been in the Senate a couple of years, but that’s irrelevant. The GOP isn’t shy about putting someone untested on the ticket. Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin come to mind. And the Republicans pretty much will end any criticism of inexperience by uttering two words: Barack Obama. The president wasn’t in the U.S. Senate that long.
Rubio will bring some baggage, but this is what applies to the Martin case (from No More Mr. Nice Blog):
Rubio was in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to early 2009 (he became the House Speaker in 2006); the bill passed the Florida House 94-20 in 2005, then passed the Senate unanimously and was signed into law by then-governor Jeb Bush. Rubio, needless to say, voted in favor of the NRA-supported bill. …
Now Marco Rubio clearly wants to be vice president of the United States, or at least position himself to run for president in the near future by being the GOP running mate this year. So would somebody please ask him about the Trayvon Martin shooting, and about the bill he supported? I say this because I bet he won’t dare to defy the gun lobby and the far right by questioning the application of the “castle doctrine” in this case, which clearly involves a shooter who wasn’t threatened.
The shooting has national implications. This is not going away anytime soon.
- Trayvon Martin and the Pro-Gun Right Wing Lobby (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- Trayvon Martin: Another Victim of “Stand Your Ground” Law (fidlerten.com)
- Stand Your Ground fathers: Trayvon Martin’s killer should likely be arrested, doesn’t deserve immunity (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Outrage builds over Florida vigilante-style killing – Reuters India (in.reuters.com)
- CBS’s Jack Ford Explains FL’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law’s Role In Trayvon Martin Case (mediaite.com)