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Heather White

Life Story Recorder, Family Echoes

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Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law is unconstitutional and thus illegal

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

To protect the right to venture out of your home (liberty) to purchase sweets for your kid brother (pursuit of happiness) and to expect to return home alive (life).

Discuss...

This is not a debate about US Gun Law in general.

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    Mar 23 2012: You seem to accept violence as a holy rite in your society, to me this represents a sickness, i.e. your society is sick.
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      Mar 23 2012: Joanne, I don't understand your contribution? I'm from the UK having a debate about a US issue of widely reported interest. Google the story and develop your thinking please.
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        Mar 23 2012: My apologies for being strident but we are all capable of having a respectful discussion and given the fact that you really did not provide enough information about the topic at all, I do not think its appropriate to try to point out Joanne's response as ignorance. Instead of resorting to personal attacks, try enlightening Joanne if you do indeed feel that she does not know enough about what your talking about. And being that Joanne is very intelligent, I'm sure you'll be up for a great discussion

        Now in regards to the issue you presented, Two questions:

        How does the murder incident relate to "Stand your Ground"?

        How would such an incident qualify Florida as a violent state? As a person living in the U.S. and have known some people that live in Florida, it has never been deemed to be violent (it has it vices but what place doesn't?) By that logic its like saying, there is lots of crime in Los Angeles and San Francisco, therefore California is a violent state.
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          Mar 23 2012: The Stand your Ground is or at least was being used to justify the shooting of the young boy by the local police and Mr. Zimmerman.
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          Mar 23 2012: This is a TED Debate - not a place for a sweeping statement like "i.e. your society is sick". My response to Joanne was perfectly acceptable and respectful. I am not from the USA simply staring a debate on a US issue that is being widly reported around the world. I asked Joanne for clarification. Personally I do not beleive US society is a sick society - it has problems, like all other societies (parts of the UK especially parts of London have a problem with knife crime) but the fact that this case has caused such a strong response in US society is a positive sign.

          In my clarification statment I ended by asking six questions in support of the debate - it's up to people to challenge or support them without taking them as a personal affront to their sense of being. Debating skills are important - especially in a forum such as TED. A debate is started with a statement - it is then up to people to consider it, research it and support or refute it stating their reasons.

          As regards your question
          How does the murder incident relate to "Stand your Ground"?

          This is the point of this case. The gunman Zimmerman, who admints he shot the boy, has claimed he shot Martin dead in self defence - however the evidence presented in the media indicates he instigated an attack on Martin - thus making a claim under the SYG law irrelivant since this law applies only to people who fight back - even with lethal force - if they are attacked in their own home or in an unprovoken manner when out in public. So you're right - the SYG law has nothing to do with this murder - normal homicide law should be applied. Why hasn't it been? Racism? Poor understadnig of the law? You decide.
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          Mar 24 2012: Orlando,

          The US is rapidly becoming a violent place.

          Andrea
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        Mar 23 2012: Look, I'm just saying that more information could have been mentioned instead of saying:

        "To protect the right to venture out of your home (liberty) to purchase sweets for your kid brother (pursuit of happiness) and to expect to return home alive (life). "

        because there is not much to go on from there. I personally agree that the U.S. is a country that is in favor of violence and I could give you many reasonable arguments for it (but that's a topic for another discussion) and this is not the point of the discussion that I'm trying to make so I'll drop it.

        Now upon doing more research and relating it to what you mentioned about the murder of Trayvon I've attempted to answer your questions.

        Is race a legitimate issue in this case?
        Well it would certainly seem so. From what you say, there is not much evidence to suggest racism but I could see how it plays a role. I do have a question: If the situation was the other way around, would we still be arguing racism?

        Is it disguising a bad law which all too easily excuses excessive force - even lethal force?
        I think the entire second amendment does this. Although I understand the history and rational behind it, it gives a justification for violence but yes.

        Is such a law against the Bill of Rights?
        I would state that it violates the 5th-7th amendment

        Is it disguising bad policing?
        In regards for not arresting Zimmerman, yes.

        Is Florida a violent state where life is of no regard and the police powerless to control communities at war with each other?
        The entire state of Florida, I am not sure but if its is the law to allow such actions, then legally, nothing really went wrong here but we talking about moral/ethical behavior here and morally speaking I think such actions on the part of Zimmerman and the police could be deemed as unethical/immoral depending on what we are focusing on.
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          Mar 23 2012: Interesting point about SYG voltating the 5th and 7th ammendments!
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        Mar 24 2012: Thanks Orlando, for your kind words and it is nice to see you again too. Heather: you are quite right my remark was too glib.

        I wish to point out, that the 'Stand Your Ground Law,' gives too much latitude to the use of deadly force. A society which creates such legislation has therefore enshrined the use of violence among its citizenry in law. Is this constitutional? Orlando has already pointed out a problem with the fifth and seventh amendment, 'No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury'.

        Instead I see this case as a symptom of a greater problem. I see this law and the subsequent injustice which has arisen out of it, as a typical side affect to the social systemic violence that continues to rise in the U.S. One in four ordinary households are reputed to contain handguns, Among juveniles serving in correctional facilities, 86% owned a gun at some point, with 66% acquiring their first gun by age 14 .From Wiki; There were 52,447 deliberate and 23,237 accidental non-fatal gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000.[4] The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides,[5] with 17,352 (55.6%) of the total 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007 due to suicide, while 12,632 (40.5%) were homicide deaths'

        This degree of hand gun ownership alone creates a climate of violence. Since the handgun is designed for one purpose alone, to injure, or kill a human being a society is therefore created that is packed with a high level of violent intention. It is no wonder that violent laws such as the 'stand your ground' law are passed in reaction to this, or that an innocent life is lost as a result of this law. To me this represents, not a healthy society, but a society in need of healing, i.e. a sick society.
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          Mar 24 2012: While agree I with you the mere presence of a weapon does increase the likely hood of violence. But the thing is almost every state in the U.S. has lower or higher gun control. The Law in question is in florida and a few other states. This is a disgusting law allowing people to become vigilantes and make any given situation. But it doesn't affect the U.S. society as a whole.

          But if the mere right to own a gun makes the U.S. a violent society by that logic Canada as well is violent society because they too have similar law to the U.S.'s second amendment. While firearm related homicide was 60.2% in 2009 and 32% in Canada. Are you still willing to claim that the mere right to ownership of weapons breeds a violent society?

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