Saturday, March 24, 2012

My take on Sanford

On February 26th in Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman. The admitted shooter hasn't been charged, ostensibly because officials haven't determined if his actions fall under Florida's "stand-your-ground" law.

I have access only to news reports and not evidence, so judging guilt or innocence wouldn't be fair. That said, I'm going to be unfair.

Based on what I've read and heard, it looks to me like Zimmerman exercised criminally bad judgment and acted out of simmering hatred -- in short, he finally caught up with a black kid in a hoodie and sentenced him to death, presuming that he could avoid being charged by arguing self-defense.

Believing that and proving it are two different things, of course. At this point there's no reason to cast aspersions on rightly deliberate investigators for not yet arresting Zimmerman.

Despite that, we've seen angry protests in Sanford and beyond. Much of the news media has whipped the story into a sensational froth.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has appointed a special prosecutor to look into the case. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has sent federal investigators to Sanford to "help" state and local officials. And, ominously, Gov. Scott has formed a task force to review the state's stand-your-ground law.

Pres. Barack Obama, responding to a reporter yesterday, said,
"I think all of us have to do some soul-searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means that we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident."
Let's be clear here: Zimmerman pursued Martin and, apparently, either confronted the unarmed teenager or provoked a confrontation, so the stand-your-ground law doesn't come into play. Still, one senseless death resulting from one stupid, irresponsible act will be exploited by those who seek to prevent law-abiding citizens from defending themselves and their families.

Zimmerman didn't do us any favors, certainly, and now Liberty-loving Americans must prepare for a fresh assault on our constitutional and human rights. Castle Doctrine in particular will come under siege nationwide -- we can count on that.

About Castle Doctrine
Preparing to employ armed defense to protect oneself and one's family is a personal choice and, thanks to our elected officials, not at all a simple one.

The crux here is called Castle Doctrine, and whether or not it applies varies from state to state. It designates a person's place of residence (and in some states a person's vehicle or workplace) as a "castle" in which that person may expect to enjoy protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack. It gives a person the legal right to use deadly force to defend that "castle," and other innocent persons legally within, from violent attack or intrusion which threatens violent attack.

Fundamentally, Castle Doctrine enables a person's right to self-defense, trumping the "duty to retreat" principle and the mandate that a person use only proportionate force against an attacker. And legally speaking, it permits the criminal defense of "justifiable homicide" when the use of deadly force actually causes death.

Castle Doctrine is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, and again, it's not universal. It's also important to note that the law almost never permits armed defense of property -- only life. Each of us is obliged to know our state and local laws and make our own choices. And if we choose to make armed defense part of protecting self and family, professional training is a must.