MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., February 12, 2014 — Two recent shootings in Florida have resulted in the deaths of two young men. In both cases, stand your ground will be used as the defense for the shooters.
In one case, an elderly, retired police officer shot a young father after an argument about texting. During the argument, the victim apparently hurled a container of popcorn at the shooter.
In the other, the shooter approached a car with four teenagers and asked them to turn down the loud music they were playing. After an exchange of words, the shooter went to his car, took out a gun and fired at the teens. After firing several rounds, he stopped, then resumed firing as the car tried to get away. He then waited for his girlfriend and drove with her to a bed and breakfast 160 miles away. He later told police that he believed someone in the car had a gun; however, his girlfriend testified that he never mentioned the gun after the couple left the gas station. One young man in the car was killed.
This happened after the celebrated shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.
All three shootings took place in Florida, a state with the stand-your-ground defense. The defendants have indicated that they were in fear for their lives when they shot unarmed people.
Just imagine the results if the shooters had not been carrying fire arms. Words might have been exchanged and some fists thrown. Someone’s manhood might have been called into question.
But three people would not be dead.
That seems obvious, but for a lot of people, it is not.
This is a trend that cannot be denied: People are taking chances that otherwise they would not, just because they feel emboldened by having a firearm.
Which comes first: the stand-your-ground defense, or the need to have a fire arm to avoid losing face? Did people who carry firearms lobby for a stand your ground law, or has stand your ground encouraged people to carry firearms to avoid losing face?
Whatever the answer is, stand your ground is a sad way for a first-world country to confront violence in the 21st Century. Are we so afraid of our fellow citizens that we have to think the worst of them, then confirm it by arming ourselves and shooting them?
This is not a question of constitutional rights. The right to bear arms does not include the right to take risks that may result in the loss of life.
Most of us have felt threatened at some time in our lives. We have had these experiences not in combat or as police officers, but as civilians living normal lives. How many of us have thought in those dire situations that we might shoot someone if we had a firearm? It is better to step away from these situations than to stand our ground and risk getting hurt or killed — or worse, to risk killing another who meant us no harm.
The people of Florida have completely changed the paradigm. The new one tells them to go looking for trouble since they are well armed.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is on Facebook (Mario Salazar), Twitter (@chibcharus) and Google+