Capitol Report – The absurdity of Stand Your Ground Laws
By State Representative, Leon D. Young
February 26 will mark the two-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin being gunned down by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, as the youth walked home from a local convenience store armed with only a bag of Skittles and an iced tea as his concealed weapons.
We all remember the judicial outcome in that case: George Zimmerman was acquitted and set free.
Now, let’s fast forward. The Sunshine State is once again in the national spot light, and again for the wrong reason.
Florida’s ill-conceived “stand your ground” law is being evoked in yet another high-profile case.
Michael Dunn, a 45- year-old white man is on trial for having shot and killed Jordan Davis, a 17- year-old Black youth.
Dunn allegedly shot the teen at a Jacksonville, Fla. gas station after an argument over loud music.
Authorities say Davis was parked in the Durango with three friends outside the store.
Dunn and his fiancée had just left a wedding reception and were heading home when they stopped at the store and pulled up next to the SUV, in which Davis was a passenger in the back seat.
An argument began after Dunn told them to turn the music down, police said.
One of Davis’ friends lowered the volume, but Davis then told him to turn it back up.
According to authorities, Dunn became enraged and he and Davis began arguing.
One person walking out of the convenience store said he heard Dunn say, “You are not going to talk to me like that.”
Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, pulled a 9 mm handgun from the glove compartment, according to an affidavit, and fired multiple shots, striking Davis. No gun was found in the SUV.
Dunn has alleged that he was frightened by the barrel of a shotgun he saw emerging from the rear window of the SUV, and the sense that he was facing down a group of dangerous thugs.
Without question, Dunn’s “mens rea” (mental state) at the time of the shooting will be critical to his defense.
However, let’s examine the facts.
According to his fiancée, they (Dunn and she) had just left a wedding reception where he had consumed at least 3 rum and cokes.
Upon pulling into the gas station to purchase some more alcohol, Dunn commented to his girlfriend how much he hated loud, hip-hop music.
He then proceeds to park right next to the vehicle from which the loud music was emanating. An argument ensued, and rather than putting his vehicle in reverse and exiting the scene, Dunn reached in his glove compartment and ultimately shot 9 times into the SUV.
Michael Dunn is on trial for first-degree murder, and the eventual outcome of this case is yet to be decided.
But, one thing is clear, in my mind at least.
The Castle Doctrine/ stand your ground laws are affront to our basic system of jurisprudence and should be repealed immediately, all across the country, in order to prevent other misguided episodes of “vigilante justice” from occurring.