Florida legislators say that the state’s “stand your ground” law cannot be a defense for anyone to pursue someone else. State Rep. Dennis Baxley says, “There’s nothing in this statute that authorizes you to pursue and confront people.” Florida state Sen. Durrell Peadon, a sponsor of the law, flatly says Mr. Zimmerman “has no protection under my law.”
The president addressed this issue in his remarks last week. “I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened.”
Stand your ground laws are needed, but do they apply to Mr. Zimmerman’s case? Florida’s law — similar to the ones enacted in more than 20 states — says individuals may use deadly force if “he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”
The law does allow people in certain instances to pursue and confront others, and those provisions may be in need of tightening. Did Mr. Zimmerman think such force was “necessary to prevent [his] imminent death or great bodily hard to himself”?
The medical examiner who looked at Mr. Zimmerman’s head wounds testified that neither they, nor the bloody nose he got from Trayvon’s blows, were “life-threatening.”
Besides, in this altercation, Mr. Zimmerman, who insisted he feared for his life, clearly had the upper hand: his gun.
He could have pulled out his gun during the wrestling match, stopped the fight, and called 911 for the police. But what would he have said? “I was following Trayvon, and he jumped me”?
With his gun trained on Trayvon, he could have left the scene and gone to the police to report what happened. He could have fired into his leg or his shoulder to subdue him. He had several defensive advantages over this unarmed, frightened youth, but he chose only one.
Mr. Zimmerman pressed the barrel of his gun into Trayvon’s chest just over his heart, pulled the trigger and killed him, because, as the prosecution said, he wanted to.
Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.