Albert Mosley: Stand your ground laws increase chance of violence



Last modified: Monday, August 12, 2013

To the editor:

Some remarks on the logic of violence and the Trayvon-Martin decision: In the not-distant past, white vigilantes were deputized to chase down black suspects, often executing them on the spot. This history encourages us to think of the black youth, Trayvon Martin, as having been executed by the white vigilante, George Zimmerman. Violence against black people, like violence against women, merits special attention because such cases continue a pattern of historical oppression.

But violence can also be the product of a contemporary culture that produces new vigilantes (eg, native speakers, neighborhood watch volunteers) and new suspects (eg, immigrants, ex-convicts).

It is easy to forget that under current Florida law, Trayvon had a right to stand his ground, just as Zimmerman did. If both had been legally armed, and both feared for their lives, then both would have been justified in directing lethal force against the other.

Stand your ground laws invoke a kind of frontier justice that sanctions duels and shootouts. We must decide whether we want laws that encourage lethal confrontations.

Stand your ground laws increase the likelihood of violence, while giving the illusion that they make us safer.

Albert Mosley

Northampton


 

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