The Orlando Sentinel uses the second anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida to conclude that the state’s “stand your ground” law remains a flash point in a still unsettled national debate over the limits of self-defense. After a Jacksonville jury this month failed to decide whether Michael Dunn murdered 17-year-old Jordan Davis, the same questions about the law resurfaced. Is it too vague or too confusing? Is it being applied as the Legislature intended? And what role did it play in George Zimmerman’s acquittal and Dunn’s partially hung jury?
The head of a key legislative committee vowed not to change “one damn comma.” Others — including the law’s author and Zimmerman’s former attorney — have suggested it could use some tweaking. Like Trayvon’s parents before them, Jordan Davis’ parents have vowed to seek changes to what they say is a flawed self-defense law in Florida. Zimmerman lawyer Mark O’Mara proposed to remove the “stand your ground” language from the standard self-defense instructions, and include it only in cases in which the facts fit that scenario. Jurors are told that the danger perceived by a suspect doesn’t even have to be “actual” for the use of force to be justified. Dunn claimed he saw a gun before opening fire, but none was found. Even if there was no gun — no “actual” danger — were his actions reasonable if he believed there was one?