Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Randi Rhodes: Senseless

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has announced that it will open an investigation into the killing of Trayvon Martin. It seems that the only way to get justice in Florida these days is to bring it in from out of state. If you haven’t heard the tragic story, a crime watch volunteer pursued, shot, and killed an unarmed black teenage boy as the boy was walking home from the store with an Arizona iced tea and a bag of Skittles. Skittles are not a deadly weapon. If they were, the NRA would demand that everyone be allowed to carry them everywhere.

The shooter, crime watch volunteer George Zimmerman, said he felt threatened by Martin. If you feel threatened by a kid who is running away from you, you have a pretty low threshold for feeling threatened. You probably shouldn’t be carrying a gun. But according to the NRA, there’s nobody who shouldn’t be carrying a gun. No crime was being committed before George Zimmerman shot the unarmed boy. And according to the way the cops handled it, no crime was committed in the act of that shooting. The police in Sanford, Florida made no arrest, hence the Justice Department has stepped in to investigate what is being called a botched investigation.

Florida has a “Stand Your Ground” law that essentially suspends all other laws, and makes guns themselves the law. In Florida, as long as you have a reasonable belief that your life and safety is in danger, you can use deadly force to defend yourself. In other words, if somebody makes you afraid, you’re free to shoot them in Florida. Under Stand Your Ground laws, there is no more right or wrong. Whoever has the gun is right. And if both parties have guns, the one who is right is the one who shoots first.

After the Stand Your Ground law went into effect, the number of justifiable homicides in Florida tripled. That should tell you that a lot of these homicides weren’t justifiable at all. The Stand Your Ground law turns Florida into the Wild West, except that a lot of the killings in the Wild West were at least technically illegal.

Today’s Homework | Discuss

Trayvon Martin's mother appeared on the Today Show this morning...

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