by Ayana Antoine ´20
The heartbreaking murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 brought national attention to “stand your ground” self-defense laws, which allow armed individuals who believe they are in imminent danger to use deadly force. The tragic situation in Florida, and others like it around the country, have caused many people to question the wisdom of these laws and even to demand their repeal. Still, many individuals defend these laws as necessary for defending against would-be perpetrators. Andrew Zimmerman, who murdered Martin, not only followed him home before taking his life but gloated about the murder, adding to the controversy why stand your ground laws is only encouraging racist vigilante actions. But despite all of the action Martin’s death got, it is all in vain as more “stand your ground” laws are upheld. The newest victim to these laws is Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery was killed after the men confronted him while he was running in the Satilla Shores neighborhood just outside of Brunswick, in Glynn County. He was allegedly robbing a house and was confronted by Greg McMichael, 64, and his 34-year-old son, Travis, who shot Arbery three times on February 23. They were arrested May 7 and are facing charges of felony murder and aggravated assault, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Greg McMichael told police after the killing that there had been “several break-ins” in the area and that Arbery looked like a suspect caught on surveillance video. But there was no series of break-ins reported in over two months prior to Arbery’s murder.
The fact of the matter is McMichael and his son needed an excuse to commit murder. The narrative of a suspicious black man running, combined with stand your ground and open carry laws, created the perfect mix to cover up their lust for violence. n a disturbing number of cases, stand your ground laws just give the average citizen the opportunity to act as law-enforcement. Although it is undeniable that racial prejudice played a huge role in Arbery’s death,there are also several cases where standing your ground laws just lead to unnecessary violence. According to a Everytown Gun Safety report, “Stand Your Ground laws are associated with an increase in firearm homicides and injuries and do not deter crime. Nevertheless, 26 states have passed Stand Your Ground laws since 2005.”” These are sets of laws that do more harm than help and several states should have gotten rid of than years ago. Florida failed to walk with Trayvon but it’s not too late to run with Ahmuad.