Trayvon Martin was an unarmed, 17 year-old black boy who was murdered February 26, 2012. Martin was on his way back from the store when he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Despite the fact that this tragedy occurred almost a decade ago, Trayvon Martin still has not received justice. His killer, George Zimmerman, currently walks free due to Stand Your Ground Laws.
What are Stand Your Ground laws?
Stand Your Ground laws can best be described as a set of laws that grants people to use deadly force against others if they believe it is necessary in order to defend themselves. These laws make it so citizens in certain states are not expected to de-escalate situations by retreating when possible. Instead, they give people a license to kill. These laws are legal in states like Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, and more. In Florida, Stand Your Ground laws are more extreme and offer immunity from prosecution. A citizen living in Florida could shoot someone but claim it was self defense under the state’s stand your ground law and avoid a trial. According to the Tampa Bay Times, nearly 70% of those who invoke Stand Your Ground to bypass prosecution walk free.
Why Do Some People Think These Laws are Necessary?
Those who strongly advocate for the right to bear arms and defend themselves believe Stand Your Ground is beneficial and necessary for citizens. A common argument amongst advocates for Stand Your Ground is that these laws will reduce and prevent violent crime. That argument is a bit flawed since, in 2020, the RAND corporation conducted a study and found no evidence proving that Stand Your Ground has prevented violent crime. Instead, the study demonstrated a rise in firearm homicide rates.
How Does This Affect Gun Violence in America?
There are many issues regarding Stand Your Ground laws including how convictions in cases appear to have a particular bias against Black citizens. According to a report done by the Everytown analysis of FBI Supplementary Homicide, in Stand Your Ground states, White shooters who kill Black citizens are deemed justifiable 5 times more likely than when the situation is reversed. However, the main issue that will be talked about in this article is how it increases gun violence in the United States. According to the RAND corporation, these laws are associated with increasing homicide rates in the United States by adding more than 150 deaths due to guns each month overall. Stand Your Ground has also been linked to unintentional deaths and nonfatal firearm injuries. In addition, these laws cost taxpayer’s money. In every state that Stand Your Ground is passed, each gun homicide costs taxpayers $688,600 on average to cover for criminal justice, police response, and healthcare.
The Future of Stand Your Ground
Stand Your Ground has had very few benefits for this country. All it has really done is given angry and slightly mentally unstable people the right to shoot someone and claim it was “self defense.” The United States already clearly struggles with gun violence as, in 2019, there were 3.96 deaths per 100,000 people which is more than 8 times the rate in Canada. With these laws, rates are just getting worse. Going off of what studies show now, Stand Your Ground will keep increasing firearm homicide rates and more and more citizens will be forced to live in fear of what has become of this country. It has done and will do nothing to prevent violent crime and instead create more of its own.