City officials are anticipating a large crowd at Monday's meeting regarding the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, and commissioners tonight may consider changing the venue. [...]The commissioners are also going to have to figure out how to accommodate the huge media contingent that will be on hand to assess how they deal with the notoriety their police department's so-called investigation of the killing has brought upon their community.
Along with other city business not related to the Trayvon shooting, commissioners tonight also may consider drafting a resolution asking the Florida Legislature to amend or even repeal the Stand Your Ground law.
Calls to reconsider the Stand Your Ground law have come from several officials, including Florida state Sen. Oscar Braynon (D), who represents the Senate district where Trayvon Martin's mother lives. He has called for legislative hearings into the law, which passed in 2005. He said: “This is a perfect case of where it goes awry. This could only be the beginning of more problems down the road. It has unintended consequences.”
Strongly backed by the National Rifle Association, that law makes it difficult for police to arrest someone who says he has shot another if the shooter claims he felt threatened. It's all about the shooter's feelings of danger; the views of witnesses are given less credibility in such cases. Sixteen other states have passed similar Stand Your Ground laws since Florida did. And the Martin shooting has not slowed down the NRA's pressure on state legislatures. Since the Feb. 26 killing, the gun
rights sales organization has taken action in Minnesota, Alaska and Iowa in favor of such laws, which it calls "common-sense."
According to state crime stats, Florida averaged 12 “justifiable homicide” deaths a year from 2000-2004. After “Stand your Ground” was passed in 2005, the number of “justifiable” deaths has almost tripled to an average of 35 a year, an increase of 283% from 2005-2010. [...]In fact, the authors of the Florida law agree with Braynon:
“When the Legislature passed this in 2005, I don’t think they planned for people who would go out and become vigilantes or be like some weird Batman who would go out and kill little kids like Trayvon,” said Braynon.
“They got the goods on him [shooter George Zimmerman]. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,” said [Sen. Durell] Peaden, a Crestview Republican who sponsored the deadly force law in 2005. “He has no protection under my law.”Maybe. But case after case in Florida indicates that, if shooter George Zimmerman were to go to trial, he might be able to beat any charges against him given the precedent. Emphasis on might. As the courts have ruled, the law "does not require defendant to prove self-defense to any standard measuring assurance of truth, exigency, near certainty, or even mere probability; defendant's only burden is to offer facts from which his resort to force could have been reasonable."
It's anybody's guess whether Zimmerman could do that given all that has come to light regarding Martin's cellphone call to his girlfriend while Zimmerman was pursuing him and the racist nature of the call Zimmerman made to the police as he engaged in that pursuit and the latest information about some domestic violence in his history in this diary by Catullus. But step one in that process is actually getting Zimmerman into the dock.