“To have laws that tell people that they can shoot first and then ask questions later is a violation of our civil rights,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton who led the marchers. “I believe that law is inherently wrong. The law in effect says based on your imagination — if you image I’m a threat — you have the right to kill me.”

Florida was the first state to enact an explicit stand your ground the law. Since the law was passed the rate of justifiable homicides in Florida has tripled.

Since Florida became the first to pass the stand your ground law, more than 30 others have passed some versions of it.

Although the Republican-controlled legislature in Florida and other states where the law exists have resisted changing the law, the fight to repeal or amend it should continue.

Opponents of the law should continue to point out that African-Americans have not been the only victims of the law, while not shying away from the fact that Blacks have been disproportionately affected.

Opponents of the law should also reach out and build coalitions with law enforcement groups that expressed early opposition to stand your ground laws.

There has been some openness to change the situation that put Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, in the position to pursue Martin. There is currently a bill in the Florida legislature that would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to develop county or municipal police training programs for neighborhood watch program and not allow immunity to aggressor in a situation. This and more needs to be done to repeal or amend stand your ground laws.

(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune.)

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