Stand Your Ground laws exist for one primary purpose. They make it so people won’t be prosecuted for not running away from an attack. It’s something that shouldn’t be needed, but people can and have been prosecuted by people who weren’t there in the moment but seem to believe that fleeing was not only possible but preferable.
As a result, some people are downright terrified to defend any human life other than their own, and even then they’re concerned.
Laws that not just eliminate that duty but make it clear you have a right to hold your ground from an attacker protect law-abiding citizens.
Now, Ohio is considering such a bill and, surprise surprise, it has the typically stupid criticisms.
Legalized lynching. Citizens’ license to kill. Codification of black men’s deaths.
These were just a few of the characterizations people offered to the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee of a “stand your ground” proposal that lawmakers reviewed Tuesday
Starting in the afternoon and continuing well into the evening, a steady stream of citizens implored lawmakers to nix the proposal. They said the bill is overly generous to people who shoot someone, purportedly in self-defense, and will establish further legal protections of racist killings.
Stand your ground laws are associated with two high-profile deaths of black men by white killers. Jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin discussed the law in making their decision. Also, prosecutors initially declined to charge two men in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man, citing the legal concept.
Trayvon Martin was killed because he was trying to bash George Zimmerman’s head in with a freaking sidewalk. He was in the process of killing Zimmerman, so Zimmerman fired his gun and ended the attack.
Look, I’m no George Zimmerman fan. He screwed up by the numbers, but he did defend his life. Further, it wasn’t a Stand Your Ground case because Zimmerman had no opportunity to retreat from the attack, what with Martin literally on top of him at the time.
Now, I’m not going to get into Ahmaud Arbery because that case still hasn’t played out yet. We don’t know what the jury will find.
However, Stand Your Ground laws are designed to only work when defending your own life from an actual attack. You don’t get to gun down someone and then claim you were scared so you can get a pass. Hyperbolic comments like “legalized lynching” are predicated on the idea that the law works in ways it doesn’t work.
Plus, all those calling these cases racist are forgetting how this same law can protect minorities who defend themselves from racist prosecution. Laws are only as good as their prosecution. If a prosecutor decides to only go after minorities who exercise their self-defense rights, you’ve got a problem, especially if he or she can somehow manipulate the facts to present a case where retreat is possible.
Stand Your Ground laws protect these people since this is a defense that can convince a jury that retreat wasn’t required.
“Those laws don’t work for black folks,” someone might say. In fact, I’ve heard people say it before. To them, I ask them to present to me the section of the law that says it only applies to white people. I won’t wait indefinitely though while you find it. That’s because it’s not there.