The Trayvon Martin case has stirred up many emotions in Florida as well as all over the country. Whether it is justified or not depends on what you wish to believe. In addition, the case has called for the elimination of what is known as the "Stand Your Ground" law. This law states in part:
Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:
Basically, you are not obligated to attempt to run for your life if you are attacked. You can, "stand your ground," and do what you need to defend yourself - with in reason, of course.
Many liberals in Florida are now screaming for this law to be taken off the books, claiming that had this law not existed, Martin would likely still be alive today. As with everything, in the warped world created when seen through liberal eyes, they do not feel a law abiding person should have the legal right to defend themselves if they are attacked, believing (For reasons only a liberal could articulate) that making it against the law to defend yourself will somehow make the world safer for everyone.
Most of us understand how far from reality this is. It is for this reason that I wrote to Florida Governor Rick Scott (Message follows), who recently established a task force to review the law. The outcome has not been determined My message to Governor Scott expressed my feelings on the law, not only as a citizen of Florida, but also as a police officer.
I encourage anyone who lives in Florida to contact the Governors office regarding this law as well. In the midst of a terrible event, reason must prevail, not a knee jerk reaction to appease those who demand more control over the actions of law abiding citizens.
Dear Governor Scott:
I am emailing you to express my feelings regarding the "Stand Your Ground" law here in Florida. I have had the opportunity to serve the residents of )Florida) for the past 15 years as a (Police Officer). That said, I have personal and professional interest and experience with this law, as well as how things were prior to the law going into effect. My hope in sending this email is to provide an honest, first-hand account of my experience with this law, which has obviously been brought to the forefront due to the Trayvon Martin incident.
Prior to the "Stand Your Ground" law going into effect, citizens were required to make every effort to retreat when attacked. Basically, it was against the law to defend yourself, unless you could prove that you absolutely could not retreat. As a police officer, I encountered many victims over the years that had been attacked, and tried to retreat as the attack continued. In my career, I have seen victims killed, or with severe lacerations on the backs of their heads, backs, arms, etc., not to mention other injuries incurred while they were attempting to flee their attacker. After the fact, many stated they did not fight back because they were afraid they would "Be arrested," if they fought back.
I once read an article written by LTC (Ret U.S. Army) Dave Grossman titled, “On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs.” In the article he talks about three types of people, those who are like sheep – kind, law abiding, productive members of society who would never hurt anyone. Then there are the wolves, those who are predators, who hunt and attack those who they feel are weaker than they are. Finally, the sheepdogs, who are those, such as law enforcement who stand guard over the sheep and fight the wolves to protect the flock.
There is much truth to the article when discussing the human mindset regarding violence and crime. Many are incapable of “sticking up for themselves.” They are sheep who need protection, and people like me will willingly stand in and do all we can to keep them safe. Wolves in the wild rarely attack prey that is bigger or stronger than they are, unless they are in a pack. Criminals are like wolves in the wild. In most cases, they attack those they feel they can easily control, or easily beat. Unless they are under the influence of mind altering agents (Illegal drugs or too much alcohol) or psychopaths/sociopaths, they go for those whom they perceive as the weakest.
Based on my own experience on the streets of Orlando, the “Stand Your Ground” law gives people the opportunity to stand up to the “Wolves” of our society. As a police officer, I hate saying this, but the simple fact is that in most cases, law enforcement cannot protect, but arrives after the fact to piece together the evidence and events which took place to create a victim. The reasons for this are many, from everything to the moral breakdown we are witnessing in society to a lack of law enforcement and little to no legal consequences for all but the most grievous offenders. Plus, it goes without saying that criminals do not warn law enforcement of their plans. IF we stop a crime in progress, it is almost always a case of just being in the right place at the right time.
What are people left with? The truth is that the “Stand Your Ground” law allows more people to defend themselves. It makes criminals think twice before attacking someone because they have to decide, “IF this guy stands up to me, can I handle him?” That question alone prevents some criminals from commencing an attack. I wish I had, over the years, kept track of all the times I had been told this by those I have arrested or spoken with, statements directly attributed to the “Stand Your Ground” law.
This law empowers people to do what law enforcement cannot do in most cases – protect themselves and fight for themselves. If law enforcement officers are the sheepdogs for society, the “Stand Your Ground” law allows everyone who is capable to be a sheepdog for the individual or their families. By eliminating this law, more in our society will become sheep, if for no other reason than they do not want to face the chance of being arrested for standing up for themselves if they are attacked. How ironic that many law abiding citizens would allow themselves to be injured (in some cases killed) out of fear of being arrested and put through a criminal justice procedure that criminals have learned NOT to fear.
No, this law, like all others, is not perfect. There will always be those cases which place it in a bad light. But those cases, like Trayvon Martin’s, are far outnumbered by all the times this law has allowed good people to stand up for themselves and not allow themselves to be a victim. Add to that all the times this law has made a criminal stop in his tracks and turn the other way because he does not want to take that chance with someone who can give them a run for their money – a statistic that can’t and never will be able to be accurately measured.
A final question; Had George Zimmerman not fought back and therefore been severely beaten, suffering life altering injuries or death, had he NOT stood his ground, would anyone care? Would anyone be saying, “We need a law that allows people to fight back against those who would commit a crime of this nature?” I think you know the answer to that. Sadly, the proof is all those who never stood their ground and therefore died at the hands of merciless criminals before the “Stand Your Ground” law was enacted.
Please, Mr. Governor, do not let one incident, one media frenzy whipped up by so many who have no idea what the truth of that case really is, or just do not care what that truth is, take something away from the rest of us (themselves included), that gives each of us the right to be a sheepdog if the actions of others place us in that role.
In closing, I want to thank you for your time regarding this letter. Thank you for doing all you have done for the State of Florida. I know you have this state’s best, long term interests at heart. God Bless you.