Stand Your Ground is a recent law passed in Florida protecting the rights of individuals claiming self-defense. The law says that an individual has “no duty to retreat” and has the right to “meet force with force, including deadly force.” This law and many like it around the country were spearheaded by the National Rifle Association and have lead to a neglect regarding the power of guns.
On Feb. 26, a 17 year-old student was found shot and killed in Sandford, Fla. Shooter George Zimmerman told police he acted in self-defense against Trayvon Martin, but when Martin’s body was recovered no weapons were found. When motivations were further questioned, Zimmerman claimed that he felt threatened, reporting to 911 that a suspicious black man was looking at him and walking around.
These events demonstrate the power of fear over rational thought. And with the neglectful use of guns, paired with the use of irrational thought, danger becomes a reality.
Zimmerman’s innate reaction that a young black man was a threat is also a troubling feature in our society. Even with a black president, America is still riddled with racism and to pretend otherwise perpetuates these stereotypes. With this ignorance and an openness to self-defense, a eventual innocent life will be and has been taken.
Martin is not the first victim of this injustice and won’t be the last. But with the national attention this young black man has received hopefully awareness regarding racial inequality and flawed gun laws will change something. Awareness is the first step but another step must be taken to save these lives.
Some drastic steps have taken place within the past week in the nation’s capital in response to this tragedy. Representative Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, who on Wed. March 28, while making a speech during the morning session, removed his jacket to reveal a hoodie. He continued to speak, placing his hood up and sunglasses on. With shouts from the presiding representative, Greg Harper, R-Mississippi, Rush kept speaking. He later said that his motivations where rooted in the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s and that he was “standing up for truth and justice.”
Others have started campaigns by wearing hoodies and carrying Skittles, mocking the suspicious nature that lead to Martin’s death. Overall, the situation is tragic and can’t be overlooked any longer. The time for gun reform and racial justice is now. It is just a shame that it took the death a young innocent boy to reiterate our inalienable right of life.