“Stand Your Ground” laws allow various scenarios for someone to murder and get away with it, if they so choose to do so. For example: if someone who is a racist decides one day that he or she wants to go out and kill a black person, the law makes it easy. In a state like Florida, all they would need to do is drive down the street, pick someone out, look around for witnesses, get out of their car, walk up to that person and shoot them, square in the chest or in the head.
Then the next step would be to pull out their cellphone and call the police, telling them that they felt threatened by this person and they shot them with the gun they carry around for protection. Of course, the media would have a field day and we would get our usual outrage demanding that something be done, but at the end of the day, any jury following instructions on “Stand Your Ground” laws would have to find the person not guilty. The jury would have to give them the benefit of the doubt that they actually felt threatened by this person.
This is just one scenario but there are endless possibilities for anyone wanting to go out and kill someone they do not like. There are also endless excuses why someone just happened to be strolling along that particular street one day and supposedly, they were accosted by an individual, maybe trying to rob them, and they shot and killed them.
“Stand Your Ground” laws add an extra burden of proof onto the prosecutor to prove something that may be unprovable. Proving the motive of someone can be difficult in a situation where there is no connection between the shooter and the victim, besides the shooter’s possible prejudice. This makes it easy to take advantage of the law to go out and murder someone over his or her race, ethnicity or some other factor, such as perhaps he or she looked gay or belonged to a certain religion because of the way the individual dressed. Who can say for sure, unless the prosecution can prove prejudice?
In the case of Michael Dunn, who shot and killed Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old black teen, it was all about him and his friends sitting in their car playing loud rap music. Mr. Dunn was parked in front of a convenience store at the same time a car with four teens, one of them being Jordan Davis, when Mr. Dunn decided to confront the teens about their music. Probably, as most teens when confronted by an adult, they ignored him. Mr. Dunn chose to take a gun out of his glove box and shoot several times into the car. Some of those bullets pierced Jordan Davis’s body and killed him.
Michal Dunn now claims self-defense with the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida; the same law that allowed George Zimmerman who shot Trayvon Martin, another unarmed teen minding his own business, to walk away a free man. The jury in this case did find Mr. Dunn guilty of three counts of attempted murder but could not reach a verdict on the murder charge of killing Jordan Davis, thanks to the “Stand Your Ground” law. Fortunately, Mr. Dunn will still spend the rest of his life in prison. If he had simply stopped shooting after the car with the teens started driving off, he may be a free man today, the same as Zimmerman, and all because of the “Stand Your Ground” law.
This is what I think happened when Mr. Dunn decided to start shooting into a car with four black teens playing their music too loud. He, I think, went into a rage and all he could think of was all the times he had listened to young black men or teens playing a music that he found offensive and probably it had happened before. Perhaps there were other time he had confronted black teens or young men about their music, and as usual, black teens or even white teens, do not pay attention to older men telling them what to do. Teenagers, not only black teens but most teens, do not listen to adults they do not know, especially someone raging at them.
I do not believe that Mr. Dunn saw a gun in the car, as he said he did, or else he would have at least told his girlfriend who was in the store at the time. I believe he simply went into a rage and he allowed that rage to carry him far enough to pull out a gun in his glove box and shoot into a car, taking out the anger that he has felt for so long against those he hates; young black men or teens who have no respect for him. It was not until later, when he realized he was in trouble, when he came up with a defense for his actions, which was Florida’s convenient “Stand Your Ground” law.
Letters that Michael Dunn wrote to family members show where is heart truly was when he shot into that car Jordan Davis was riding in. One letter he wrote to his grandmother said,
“The jail is full of blacks and they all act like thugs. This may sound a bit radical but if more people would arm themselves and kill these (expletive) idiots, when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”
Unfortunately, those letters were not used by the prosecution, for whatever reason, or perhaps the jury may have deliberated differently on the murder conviction.
I do not believe this will be the last time we have a case where a “Stand Your Ground” law will allow someone to get away with murder. Perhaps next time will be more like the scenario I used for an example earlier, when someone burning with hate will go out looking for someone to kill, all the while knowing that all they need to do is make sure there are no witnesses at the beginning, such as late at night. Then, it is easy enough just to kill someone who fits the profile of the object of their hate, be it a black teen or another minority that he or even she, would like to wipe off the face of the earth. Afterwards, the good old standby for a defense, “I thought they were reaching for a gun, I felt my life was in danger, I was just defending myself.”
Is it “Stand Your Ground” or a “license to murder”? Will innocent teenagers continue to die who happen to be black, while the eyes of justice merely turn and look the other way? Outrage over these laws must reach a peak I suppose, before something is done, perhaps a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in the constitutionality of the laws, if it ever reaches that level. Until then, justice has taken a holiday.