Ever since the Trayvon Martin case lit the airwaves, I have been bothered by the "Stand Your Ground" law. I am very aware of the tough laws which govern the State of Florida, but to me the "Stand Your Ground" law, had an arm of protection for the defense which, in my opinion, was over reaching. Even if the "Stand Your Ground" law was not invoked by the defense, it didn't need to be because it is Florida Law and effects everything from jury selection, jury instruction, what evidence can and can't be allowed, how the trial is ran, and how the prosecution can proceed during the trial.
The "Stand Your Ground" law has been gnawing at me because there was a lie somewhere, but I could not pinpoint it right away, until the other night when, as I was taking a walk, it came to me. It started when a person posted a question on my Facebook page, after I posted a verdict update article from this blog. This person basically wanted to know why the picture I used in my article of Trayvon Martin was of him at 12 years-old, and I simply replied that that was the only picture that was available to me when I made the original post back in March of 2012, and there was no deeper reason than that. I then said to myself, "Yeah, he was seventeen at the time." It was during my walk that that statement resonated with me. Trayvon Martin was seventeen at the time. That's when it hit me, that was it!
I realized, in that moment, that the lie, the assumption was that Tayvon Martin was also protected by the same law, but Martin's age made it impossible for him to stand his ground if a.) he also possessed a gun that night or b.) if the roles were reversed. And this is what makes the "Stand Your Ground" law unconstitutional, because it does not provide EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW as it pertains to AGE, according to the U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 1. which states: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." In other words, a state can not make a law that gives protection under the law for one person over another, like a law that protects an adult over a minor.
By itself, the "Stand Your Ground" law is not unconstitutional, however, in the context of Florida Law it is, why? Because Florida requires, according to their own gun laws under the "Purchase and Possession" provision that, "A minor less than 18 years of age may not possess a firearm, other than an unloaded firearm at his home, unless engaged in lawful activities." For Martin to be able to carry a concealed weapon that night like George Zimmerman, he would have to apply for a license, and to do that, he had to be 21 years or older, under Florida's "Carrying" provision. This means that under no circumstance would Martin have been able to do what George Zimmerman was able to do, legally, because he was 17 years-old at the time of the shooting, thus under the legal age to purchase, possess and carry a gun that night.
The "Stand Your Ground" law which is listed under the Florida's gun law "Miscellaneous" provision clearly states: "Under Florida law, there is no “duty to retreat” if you are attacked in any place you have a lawful right to be. Instead, you may stand your ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if you reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to yourself or others. The "Stand Your Ground" law did not allow Trayvon Martin to do so because he was not allowed under Florida's own gun laws to meet Zimmerman's gun with his own gun (meet force with force) or to even to carry a gun and to use deadly force if he reasonably believed it was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or others. Since the "Stand Your Ground" law can not apply to Martin or any minor it should not have been allowed to protect Zimmerman in anyway because it is unconstitutional.
Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law violates the civil rights of every minor who lives or visits that state and should have been dealt with BEFORE this trial even started. The Department of Justice has a better case to pursue the State of Florida's violation of Trayvon Martin's civil rights, as a minor, than going after Zimmerman, in my humble opinion, and render the "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida and subsequently similar laws, where age legality are requirements for purchasing and carrying guns, unconstitutional.
Written by: Xelinda Aïda