Florida has some of the strongest laws pertaining to armed self-defense in the United States. Not only did the state begin the trend of “shall issue” concealed-carry laws in the late 1980s, but it more recently enacted a “Stand Your Ground” statute, meaning that when a person faces a threat of death or great bodily harm in a public place, he has no duty to retreat from his attacker before using lethal force in self-defense.
However, a commitment to armed self-defense requires a second commitment: to the principle that those who bear arms must act responsibly. It is still not clear whether Florida “neighborhood watch” vigilante George Zimmerman broke the law when he chased down and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. And that’s a problem, because Zimmerman acted inappropriately in the moments leading up to the shooting, and Martin would still be alive if Zimmerman had behaved as he should have. Supporters of pro-self-defense policies should roundly condemn Zimmerman’s actions, and Florida should change its laws to prevent this incident from repeating itself.
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