Did ‘Stand your Ground’ affect the mind of Trayvon Martin’s killer?

DNC Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), calls for the repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law:

This case is further evidence that Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground Law,’ which passed in 2005, needs to be repealed. The failure of the Sanford police to further investigate this crime as a result of their interpretation of this law is an injustice to Trayvon’s family and to all Floridians.

But it seems to me that the recent discussion has been focusing on the question of whether Zimmerman might escape prosecution under the stand your ground law rather than the more important fact that Trayvon might be alive today had the law not passed.

Zimmerman had good reason to think that the law made his actions legal, and he likely acted on that belief. Whether or not he was correct in his interpretation of the law, he would not have cause to believe his actions legal had the law not been passed.

Blame is not a zero-sum quantity. Pointing out the fact that many of the deaths in 9/11 were caused by the fact that the World Trade Center did not meet building codes does not make Bin Laden any less culpable for the deaths. Zimmerman is responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin, but that does not mean that the Florida legislature, the NRA and the others behind the Stand Your Ground law are not just as responsible for the predictable and predicted result of their actions.

Use of deadly force should always be a last resort. It was not just Zimmerman who interpreted the law as allowing him to gun someone down on mere suspicion, the local police did as well. Even if that was not the intent of the law, it appears to have been its effect.

Prosecuting Treyvon’s killer is important. But preventing future tragedies is even more important.

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