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A License To Kill

Updated on May 2, 2012

Central PA Hoodie March--March 30, 2012

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No Backing Down

Around the end of March, the world was made aware of the case of Trayvon Martin, a young African-American man who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida.

As information came out about the circumstances of the incident, the captain seemed more and more like a vigilante, who had issues with African-Americans. Questions remain over who the aggressor was, and when this case does go to trial, that detail will be brought.

Convicting Martin's accused killer will be easier said than done. Florida, like many states, has a variation on the "Stand Your Ground" or "Castle Doctrine" law. These laws are the product of an alliance between that National Rifle Association and a once-shadowy pro-business group; the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, as they are now know, draft model legislation such as the "Castle Doctrine" and the "Voter ID" laws, and find sympathetic, usually GOP-dominated, state legislatures. After several large companies, perhaps thanks to pressure from Color of Change left the group, ALEC decided to disband that section.

But the damage may already be done. A Trayvon Martin situation could easily happen in my home state of Pennsylvania. Earlier this year, the GOP-controlled legislature passed and my state's Republican Governor signed a "Castle Doctrine" law into effect.

Much like the Florida law, the law gives a citizen the right to use deadly force as soon as person enters their residence, including porches, etc or vehicle. This is a far cry from the continuum of force that a police office uses. My hometown's regional police force's manual on force instructs officers to; use only the amount of force reasonably necessary, and to not use excessive force, to employ force in direct relationship to the resistance, and to apply force in a progressive matter.

It seems to me, and perhaps other, that the NRA and ALEC have given citizens a license to kill. In Pennsylvania, a case like Trayvon Martin may be only a matter of time, and the way the state responds will say a lot about it.


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    • Mick Walters profile image

      Michael Walters 5 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      When your house gets broken into by someone who is armed and willing to take your life, will you be willing to do the same? Or would you rather watch someone kill you? My close friends cousin was a victim of a home invasion, was tied up. He got out and got his firearm and chased the intruder out of the house. My brother was about to have a gun drawn on him at a waffle house near our home, if he came to our house after my brother left, we know where our firearms are. And as a responsible firearm owner, we know when to use a firearm and when not to. No matter what any laws say, I will never watch anyone kill me.

    • lexicon10 profile image

      lexicon10 5 years ago

      Hey 50, since you are content to wait for "evidence" to reveal truth in this case, I'm certain you won't mind sharing with us which facts you await. The only evidence in this case is a boy 6 feet under and a one-sided story that you aparently are willing to accept as scripture.

    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

      Not surprised that you'd support Zimmerman. . .

    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

      We'd have the kind of "wild west shootout" that the NRA, etc seem to want.

    • lexicon10 profile image

      lexicon10 5 years ago

      Yes I'm certain 50 Cal. photos, persona, etc. it's better if he's just dead.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

      A controversial essay with an insulting title to any man or woman who regards the safety of their own or their families right to survive a car jacking or home invasion. This piece represents the rules of engagement as progressive by law enforcement, as in it gets tougher from a slow start, rising to the threat. If you believe that, spray paint a water pistol black then meet a police officer and draw it from your waste band and squirt him with water, I doubt seriously that you will survive it. As for this case, drop the race card and wait for the trial and evidence to come forward. Let them establish the character of both individuals and run the due process route. I have personally donated to the defense fund and am ready to donate to the appeals fund. Zimmerman may be guilty and then I'll withdraw from the appeals fund. Zimmerman's actions puts the whole of Americas public self defense system on trial, and I don't appreciate the coloring by race added to the media, with out the addition of current photos and disclosure of the dead kids actual persona.

      Great piece to add to the pre trial rhetoric'


    • lexicon10 profile image

      lexicon10 5 years ago

      JamaGenee, George Zimmerman will face no additional charges, as it was only by pressure that the current charge was secured. Zimmerman can't fall, not with the entire state of Florida, the whoile nation in fact, holding him up. According to the Washington Post, people have donated more than $200,000 to his legal defense fund.

      Reportedly, Zimmerman revealed his racist views toward Mexicans and bragged about "winning every time he went to court" on his now defunct Myspace page [onlytobeakingagain]. Who the hell is George Zimmerman anyway? And why do so many rally behind him? These are the questions that beg for answers. One might ask the same of Trayvon Martin. But truthfully, people are not rallying behind Trayvon; they rally behind the concepts of justice, law, and civil rights and the idea that one can walk down the street without first seking approval from a closet klan member like George Zimmerman. Why is it so important to the descendants of America's former slave masters to see this murderer go free?And the likelihood of that happening increases with his growing defense fund. But there is a caveat; he will not be able to so much as water the lawn. For under Florida law, any black passerby can justifiably fear for his life.

      And regarding Stand Your Ground laws, check out the Crime Victims Survey where you will find a revised difinition for the offense "burglary". Remember the law begins with a BLANK SHEET of paper. The issue of Home Invaision and deadly Force has risen to the top of policymaking agendas around the nation and states are looking at their burglary statutes under which such crimes were formerly dealt. If a bill proposing stiffer sentencing or greater victim self-defense latitude fails due to a lack of prevalence in the jurisdiction the remedy is to change the elements of the crime to include experiences more common to people in dwellings like door bell ringing for example. Instantly, everyone becomes a burglary victim and magically the opposition disappears.

      At the same time that policymakers discuss giving citizens greater opportunity to fire their weapons they discuss measures to insure only certain segments of the population have them. You see, things might have turned out differently for Trayvon had he been armed too!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      The "stand your ground" laws ARE pretty much a license to kill. The original purpose was good - a businessman here in OK wouldn't be in prison now for shooting a robber if it had been in place - but as is often the case, a "good" law can be turned into a "bad" one if one wants it to.

      I'm still in shock that G. Zimmerman was allowed to be let out on bail after disappearing. But he may face another charge for lying to the court about his finacial status.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      From what I have heard, and read, about this stand your ground law the more I don't like it. It seems to spawn more potential issues, like in this case, than what it might be able to prevent.

    • lexicon10 profile image

      lexicon10 5 years ago

      George Zimmerman followed Trayvon sizing him up, thinking he was a half step ahead of the game while on the phone wih the operator Zimmerman said "he's got something in his hand." And thats why the two guys were, reportedly, searching yards in close proximity to the incident. When they didn't find a weapon they found themselves stuck on stupid, with mouths that operated faster than their brains. Consequently the story they fabricated lacks consistency and believability. Murder...and the police department and city of Sanford conspired to cover up the crime. Now the state of Florida is involved, as it appears judges are unwilling to try the case; two have recused themselves already. Society admonishes youths who think, mistakenly, that they should settle disagreements with a gun. And what are they to think now?

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thank you for explaining the crux of this matter. I live in Florida and did not know about this law. This is sad and I agree with your point, that the law should be what the police use - same amount of force etc. That certainly sounds reasonable. I can't believe the state legislatures are giving more force to individual citizens than the police. There is something terribly wrong here.

    • TeaPartyCrasher profile image

      TeaPartyCrasher 5 years ago from Camp Hill, PA

      Did I not mention that there is much we don't know?

    • SpanStar profile image

      SpanStar 5 years ago

      Speculation can be dangerous however it doesn't take Einstein to put two and two together.

      Juries have to make determinations often when they only have a limited amount of facts and evidence.

    • Craig Suits profile image

      Craig Suits 5 years ago from Florida

      Speculating on this subject is dangerous until the evidence has been examined...

    • SpanStar profile image

      SpanStar 5 years ago


      There does seem to be a speculation as to whether or not George Zimmerman is the perpetrator or the victim. I say he is the perpetrator and one only needs to look at his actions that night. The only thing that I can see that George Zimmerman did in accordance with the guidelines he was supposed to follow is that he called 911 beyond that George Zimmerman did not listen to anyone except himself.

      Historically Zimmerman has demonstrated that he is a violent person. Not everyone is willing to struggle with the police however George Zimmerman is one of those who has now I don't know about anyone else but I'm supposed to believe he is afraid for his life of a 17-year-old kid-I'm sorry I find that hard to buy.