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How one Florida senator predicted a Trayvon Martin-like case in 2005

When Florida's Legislature prepared to pass its now-infamous "Stand Your Ground" law in 2005, gun-control advocates and Democrats predicted the worst. They said it would bring a "wild West" mentality to an already wild state.

That didn't quite happen. Often, the debate over guns devolve into doom-and-gloom scenarios. Gun-rights advocates depict a dark world of shadowy assailants who can often be checked only by an armed-to-the-teeth citizenry. Gun-control advocates warn that mass shootings and armed lunatics will over-run and bloody the streets.

But one longtime state Senator, Democrat Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach, struck just the right note when the state Senate prepared to pass the legislation in 2005. In retrospect, with the killing of Trayvon Martin, his comments seem eerily prescient about the expansion of the so-called "Castle Doctrine" -- the concept that a man's home is his castle and that he owes no duty to retreat when someone breaks in. The Legislature declared that people had no duty to retreat anywhere. And Geller fretted it was going too far.

"We never said . . . that the street is your castle," he said on the Senate floor.

"I don't think you ought to be able to kill people that are walking toward you on the street because of this subjective belief that you're worried that they may get in a fight with you."

Comments

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Stoutboy

What happened in this case is actually much worse. In the eyes of the Sanford police and DA, you apparently can follow and confront someone, initiate the physical contact, then feel free to shoot that person dead if the fight isn't going your way. Only in America...

Vince

I don't get it. Zimmerman initiated the confrontation!!! He did more than stand his ground !! If he is not in violation of the law ... no one ever will be.

The Zennist

"Stand Your Ground" law in 2005 has extended the Castle Doctrine, that a man can defend his home to, everywhere in Florida is your home. If a homeless person inside a Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop looks like he could threaten you or your family, you can now legally shoot him (this actually happened). And if there is a shootout between rival gangs and someone gets killed, it's okay (this actually happened).

K. Harsh

He was not arrested and that was correct and lawful decision by the police. All you anti-gun and wild west mentality types - wait his case will be submitted to grand jury and if charged your comments are off base. If not charged that is the will of the people and so be it. The state senator mentioned is and remains a dope.

Francine Williams

"Stand Your Ground" law is one of the most dumbfounded pieces of legislature put forth, and Florida would be the state to pass such a law. What can we expect from dumb and dumber politicians? There are some people who do not need to be in politics/office, and those are the ones who past that asinine piece of crap.
That’s why that idiot, Zimmerman shot an innocent teen, because he is a bigot #1, and #2 because of the idiot politicians who passed “Stand Your Ground”law.

The House Always Wins

Unfortunately whenever you pass criminal laws, you are playing the odds. Someone will get killed by that sort of law at some point. That is not in question. Since 2005, six or seven years have passed. The question is has the law balanced this evil with enough good. Has it saved a life or more? It's hard to say, but if it has then the law is good on balance. All laws have side effects just as all drugs do.

Nanjing03

If indeed Mr. Zimmerman closed in on the person that he was observing and he (Zimmerman) violated the rules of engagement by using deadly force when no threat was present, then there was a violation of the rules of engagement, not a violation of the Castle Doctrine. The Doctrine essentially gives armed law abiding citizens the right to defend themselves from “imminent and immediate” threats against life and limb – essentially the procedure that we taught law enforcement officers at the academy.

Would opponents of the Castle Doctrine suggest that a genuinely targeted victim – a legally armed college coed being stalked in a university parking garage for example – flee to an elevator, or stairwell, or cower behind a car or concrete support and hope that the stalker does not assault her? If time permits, she could draw her weapon and challenge her stalker as he approaches, using deadly force in reasonable time if he persists – provided that there is even time to challenge.

Legislators need to be careful to returning to the alternative of flight and no defense and a return of draconian gun control and high rates of violent crime.

Ruth

Stand Your Ground is not follow someone or ask them what they are doing in a common area or insult someone and kill; how on earth will you even refer to that law in this case? The police is trying to hide behind that law because they do not care about a black man's life. The police chief needs to be fired then brought to justice for cover up; all police officers who were trying to cover up needs to come to justice. Zimmerman needs to be locked up first then investigate the situation to see if he can go out on bail or stay in preason with no bail. He needs to be in preson with no bail. WHAT A SHAME TO this country; I am sorry, as a person who was born and raised in Africa, I can not tell you the desappontment I have on police officers in this country again and again. I am trying to be positive but there is nothing to hold on. America is a great country, but unles you address the race issue head on, that might be the reason for the down fall of this great country we all love. Who told you that by disproportionately discriminating and not lifting the minority that there will be prosperity? Use your common sense....lift everyone and America will be #1 again otherwise it will be in the reverse direction....
Ruth

Nanjing03

Ruth, you may have fallen into the "group-think" mentality of many who want gleeful revenge for racial reasons. We do not know what really happened other than an unarmed man who was obviously innocent of initial wrongdoing was shot by another man who had a good record of preventing crime in the past. We can be fairly certain here that there was no violation of the Castle Doctrine because Zimmerman had already left the ground that he had a right to initially defend and moved to other ground when he got out of the vehicle. In that case, there would have been no castle doctrine applicable. However, if the alternative eyewitness report from the 13-year old that stated that Zimmerman was approached by Martin and assaulted as implied by Zimmerman's bloody nose and the grass stains on the back of his jacket -- and if there is any validity to that, then we could be looking at a different situation where the castle doctrine would have extended Zimmerman’s defensive ground after Martin allegedly stopped and turned on him. These are possibilities that have to be investigated in detail by investigators without the Twitter hype, and before we are willing to condemn and ruin another life. As an American born citizen of Middle Eastern parents, I knew too well the misplaced hatred of my fellow Americans -- African-Americans, Latino-Americans, White-Americans and others – toward me and citizens who looked like me, and in spite of our love and service to this country -- because of 9/11 and the 10 years of war around the world since then. As an African-born American, you might have some understanding of that and the danger of falling into a mindless group-think mentality fostered by race baiters who have their own selfish or political reasons for stark premeditated revenge under the false guise of pious justice.

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