That’s because despite the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin earlier this year, when Zimmerman, a self-appointed community patroller in Sanford, Fla., provoked an altercation with the unarmed Martin by stalking him because he wore a hoodie, virtually nothing has been done toward revising the “Stand Your Ground” law that allows people to kill first and claim self-defense later.
Later – as when the slain person can’t tell his or her side of the story.
After Martin’s slaying generated marches and a national uproar, Gov. Rick Scott appointed a task force to review the law. While the Republican-dominated commission made some minor recommendations, such as changing the law to discourage community watch volunteers from taking the law into their own hands, it made few major recommendations – instead leaving it to the state Legislature to make the tough decisions.
I don’t expect much will happen there – as lawmakers in this state are mostly Republican and mostly owned by the National Rifle Association – which backs the law as it is. And under the law right now, people can be immune from prosecution for using deadly force if they reasonably believe their life is in danger.
Problem is, when it comes to black males, people like Zimmerman, who is now awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges, and Dunn – from whom Stand Your Ground is a likely defense strategy – tend to act irrationally, not reasonably.
They believe they can follow black males because they don’t like what they’re wearing, or start arguments with them because they don’t like their music, and when those youths respond with hostility or immaturity, they want to claim they feel “threatened.”
Then they feel they ought to be able to shoot and kill them.
The details will continue to trickle in over Davis’ slaying during the coming days. But the fact that this guy, Dunn, believes he was justified in shooting at these unarmed black youths eight or nine times already leads me to doubt that he wasn’t responding to a real threat as much as he was overreacting to teenage obnoxiousness.
Sadly enough, in Florida, the law makes it easy for people to not have to distinguish between the two.