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‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws and the Trayvon Martin Case: Do you have a constitutional right to self-defense?

By John Vettese, Student Voices staff writer

When George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., shot and killed 16-year-old Trayvon Martin in late February, he was not arrested, nor was he charged with a crime.

Police said Zimmerman was protected under a state statute known as the Stand Your Ground law, and a heated, nationwide debate ensued over whether they should have let Zimmerman go free when Martin – who, it turns out, was unarmed – lay dead.

Stand Your Ground was passed by Florida in 2005, and 23 other states – including Georgia, Montana, Michigan and Oregon – followed suit and adopted their own version of the measure. Endorsed by gun-rights advocates like the NRA, the Florida law says people who are attacked or feel their life is being threatened don’t have to retreat, but instead have the right to stand their ground “and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary.”

In the Florida shooting, Zimmerman was on patrol and made a 911 call to police after spotting Martin in his neighborhood, describing him as suspicious and possibly high on drugs. From this point, reports of what happened vary. Zimmerman may have followed Martin on his walk home, or Martin may have taken a swing at Zimmerman. While investigators continue to sort out what exactly happened that prompted Zimmerman to shoot Martin, the emotional outpouring has swelled: A story got out that Zimmerman’s reason for finding Martin suspicious was the fact that he was dressed in a hoodie, prompting a “million hoodie march” in New York. U.S. Rep. Bobbie Rush of Illinois took the floor in Congress wearing a hoodie in support of Martin.

Legal experts, such as Lyle Dennison, a National Constitution Center adviser on Constitutional Literacy, say the emotional element of the case is keeping people from considering the constitutionality of the Stand Your Ground law. Even though there is no right to self-defense specifically listed in the Constitution, Denniston calls the concept “ancient” and notes it was recognized by the Supreme Court in cases as recent as 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized a personal right to have a gun and use it for self-defense within one’s own home.

Fordham University law professor Nicholas J. Johnson also points to the Ninth Amendment of the Constitution, which acknowledges that people have rights other than those listed in the Bill of Rights, or the subsequent amendments to the Constitution.

A quick bit of history to explain what exactly that means: Some of the Founding Fathers wanted a Constitution that broadly mentioned fundamental rights. They felt that listing every single right we might have would be impossible, and listing just some of them could be dangerous, since it would suggest that the list was complete.

Others didn’t agree. They said that the Constitution needed to provide specific protections for the citizens. The Ninth Amendment was a compromise – it basically says that in addition to these rights we talked about in the other eight amendments, there are a whole bunch of other rights you have, too. Over time, the Supreme Court has found some of those “unenumerated rights” to be the right to travel, the right to privacy and the right to self-defense in one’s home.

Critics say that Stand Your Ground gives people carte blanche to act without restraint when it comes to use of force – and might even encourage it. They also say, looking specifically at Martin’s shooting, that a right to self-defense when faced with aggression does not protect Zimmerman if he was the aggressor. Police are continuing to investigate the case.

What do you think?

Do you have a constitutional right to self-defense? Do you think Stand Your Ground laws fall within that right? Or do they encourage you to exceed that right? Join the discussion!
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Comments
9/17/2014
va
devon
mr.conner
I think its far to hit someone back if they come to you and pick on you I would also tell some one and report them so it can be handeled the right waY AND YOU WOMT GET IN TROBLE.

4/23/2014
SB
Alejandra
Levi-EF
I think we all should have the right of defend ourselfs if we are in some king of danger, but in the Trayvon Martin case it's is unfair that this law is keeping him out of jail. An unarmed guy wearing a hoodie is not a threat. For ''stand your ground'' I understand that we can protect ourselfs if our life is in risk, but just because Zimmerman tought that the guy was suspicious doesn't mean he had the right to kill him. It would be better if the people in charge could be more specific when it comes to this law, because sometimes murders and guilty people can use this right just as an excuse and that means NO JUSTICE! I truly believe that justice should be made in every murder case, people can't just walk around shooting people because they were feeling "threatened" and don't recieve some kind of punishment for it. If you were at your house and a thief tries to gets in is another story, this kind of cases keep happening because American Laws are so confusing and unclear!!!!

9/28/2012
Henderson NY
Samantha
Colby/Belleville Henderson
I believe citizens have a right to defend themesleves, to an extent. If somebody is making a direct threat to your life than yes, self defense is in the right. However, there needs to be limits so that murder is not justified as "self defense". For example a person breaking into your home is a clear threat to your safety and if an American feels their life is threatened in their own home then they should be able to legally defend themselves. However, there needs to be limits so trigger-happy vigilantes are not on the streets deciding who is a threat and who is not. A 16 year old walking in his neighborhood with a hoodie on is not a threat. He was murdered and Zimmerman should face charges for his negligence that ended an innocent teenages boy's life. This was not a case of self defense but it should not deny those who are in danger of protecting themselves.

9/27/2012
Lorton VA
Bradley
Busch /hayfield secondary
I do think that everyone has the right to self- defense. If someone has put a threat on your life you have the right to defend yourself . What had happen in this situation was just not right. In my opinion the Stand your Ground laws does have affect.

9/27/2012
Alexandria
Khadijah
Mr. Busch
I think everybody should have the right to self-defense, but to a certain extent. If someone looks suspicious, it doesn't mean you kill them. We don't have the right to do that. Even if Martin did swing at Zimmerman, that doesn't mean he has the right to kill him, or pull a weapon on the kid. There is no right to self-defense specifically listed in the Constitution, so therefor i don't think its fair to say Stand Your Ground laws fall within that right.

9/27/2012
Alexandria/ VA
Aaron
Bush/Dorceus/Hayfield Secondary
I believe that you do have the right to self defence, but only when needed. Zimmerman had no right to take away Trayvon Martains life away because of suspesion, it's not fair and he should pay for what he did. I feel as that the Stand Your Ground does fall in that right. Everyone has the right to defened themselfs, if needed. Zimmerman already called the police, he should have waited. Trayvon wasn't even bothering anyone.

9/25/2012
Alexandria/ VA
Justin
Mr. Busch/ Hayfield Secondary
I believe that each american citizen has their own right to self-defence because its like Patriotism for themselves. People fight for their country, meaning they should also fight for the people in that country. Sadly, I do believe Stand Your Ground laws fall into the constitution. Where it gives people the protection they think is right, it also gives people no time to second guess what they are doing.

9/25/2012
Alexandria VA
Erick
Mr. Dorceus
I believe that you do have the right to defend yourself and other people if a person or a group of people are endangering the lives of others. But many people abuse their rights by shooting or killing innocent people and lying about being attacked to get revenge or just to take their victums personal belongings. People need to realize that their are some people that deserve to have these rights and others who don't deserve it. It depends whats inside the hearts of men to determine how they use their 2nd amendment rights. If they use it for selfish purposes then they will be the cause of govermental debates to take away or keep the second amendment.

8/2/2012
Benson,AZ
Brett
Mr. Sorenson/Benson High School
I do believe that we as American citizens do have the right to self-defend ourselfs in the occasion of an extreme cercumstance. For example, if someone pulled a fire arm on me, I will use self-defense and use it forcefully and Stand Your Ground does fall within that catagory because in my personal opinion, both mean about the same thing, as long as it doesn't exceed that right. And Zimmerman probably shouldn't have shot the kid, but rather confront Trey in a civil manner.

5/29/2012
Irving/TX
Jordan
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that we Americans have a constitutional right to self defense and we should imply it when nessesary.There is not enough information in what happened in this case but I believe that if you are attacked you should defend your self using whatever you have to.

5/21/2012
Irving/Texas
Melissa
Bradley/Nimitz
I do think that we have a constitutional right to self-defense, but only if you really are using for self defense. I don't know all the details in the Trayvon Martin case, but from the reports that I have seen, it was said that Zimmerman shot Martin with no real reason. He said that he seemed suspicious, but is that a real reason? There's always people walking out on the streets that to some people would seem suspicious, but that does not give anyone the right to shoot them. I can see where that would be a conflict if it was in someone's own property, but unless they're holding you at gun point or they're trying to break in to your house, there really isn't a reason to kill them. According to how the law was used in favor of Zimmerman, I don't really agree with the Stand Your Ground Law. To me if feels as if that law encourages home owners to shoot people for no real reason. I do think that you should be allowed to defend yourself in certain cases where it is a must.

5/18/2012
MD
Diane
Walt Whitman
I would have shot Trayvon Martin too. Time to stop painting this thug as an innocent, helpless kid.

5/17/2012
montgomery texas
taylor
mr. metzgar
i absoulutley think that its wrong that zimmerman didnt get charged. the police officers specifically told him to stay away and they would handle it, but he didnt listen and ended up killing a innocent kid who wasnt harming anyone. if u asked me, i think it was a race thing because if it was any other kid, he wouldnt even be bothered with it. the law these days are so unfair. even if zimmerman didnt get charged with murder, he should have some other type of punishment.

5/10/2012
Porterville, CA
Andres
Mr.Smith/Monache
We all Have the rights to self-defense. People should not get in trouble for defending themselves from danger. I don’t think people have the rights to use a deadly weapon when the other person doesn’t have one either unless you are unable to defend your self otherwise. I don’t think that the Stand Your Ground law is bad or good. I do think they need to fix it since people will tend to use it in the wrong situation.

5/10/2012
portrville,ca
salinna
smith/monache
Yes we all have the right to self-defense. though there are many catagories that lie under self-defensnse. I believe that it depends on the situation. Though in a situation like this it has no self- defense. since there is no evidence that he was attacked. Also the law to stand your ground isnt a good one. Thus, They always dont have all the facts of how the gun went off. making each story untrue.

4/30/2012
Irving/TX
Carolina
Bradley/Nimitz
You do have a constitutional right for self-defense, but it depends on the situation you are faced with. In this case Zimmerman was wrong to shoot Trayvon Martin for no apparent reason. The teenager did not cause any attention to himself he was just caught in a bad moment. Stand Your Ground I think is a unnecessary law there is plenty of other laws the include self-defense. This law does exceed the right if the person uses it to do harm like in this case. Zimmerman had no right to shoot Trayvon.

4/19/2012
Irving, Texas
Kevin Sanchez
Bradley/Nimitz
Everyone has their constitutional right to self-defense. Do I think Zimmerman should have shot to kill Martin? No. He could have easily shot him in the foot or leg and ran away to call the police. Stand Your Ground Laws fall in the right of self-defense because you are still just trying to protect yourself. Of course, there will be people out there who misinterpret their rights, but whats new? Zimmerman had the right to protect himself, but not to take someone's life.

4/18/2012
Benson, Arizona
Tori
Mr. Sorenson
I think that people have a right to self-defense to a point. I don't think that Zimmerman should have killed Trayvon just because Martin was wearing a black hoodie and I believe that it was just a hate crime!

4/18/2012
Benson
Edythe Figueroa
Mr.Sorensen
Yes we all have a constitutional right to self defense, if there is a time to where you fill threatened you should do the right with someone. I think people should have their right to self defense if they are at their homes if someone has an issues out of their own property they should report it to the police so they can take care of it instead of them. I think Zimmerman should be thrown in jail for killing someone, if what he says is true about Martin swinging at him he should of ran and called the cops, since martin only did have skittles and tea. People are ignorant and they should see that Martin didnt do anything wrong in my opinion, and Zimmerman did have his self defense, but he handled it very poorly. -__-

4/18/2012
warren
Autumn
warren jr. sr. high school
I think that if your life is really threatened and you cant get any help you have the right for self-defense to a point...

4/18/2012
Illinios
Tiffany G.
Warren Jr./High School
Zimmerman shuld be but in jail or prison cuz he shot Travyon Martin cuz he was wearing a hood and he was a different color than everybody else and Travyon was using self-dense and Zimmerman had no reason to touch or stalk him either...

4/18/2012
Irving,TX
Richard
Bradley/Nimitz
Every American has the right to self-defense whether its constitutional or not. But in order to call it self-defense, one must be attacked. When someone is being attacked and they decide its time to fight back, the last thing on that persons mind is if trying to protect his/her life is against the law. How a person may defend themselves, however, is up to them. Zimmerman's decision to shoot Trayvon was too far, but from his perspective, he saw it as a way to defend himself. According to what has been stated about the Trayvon Martin case and what I have read about the “Stand Your Ground” laws, Zimmerman had the right to defend himself. The state of Florida has given its citizens that right and Zimmerman used it.

4/18/2012
chicago
jannet marriate
grover cleveland elementary
did he use the stand your ground law correctly?

4/17/2012
Benson AZ
Jess
Sorenson/ Benson
Yes everyone does have self defence but your not supossed to use in unless your being attacked. George was not being attacked but he thought that he was threatened so he shot the kid. even though he thought he had a gun or was acting suspiticious he still shouldnt have shot the kid.

4/17/2012
AZ
Rayleahna
Sorenson
To avoid all of the controversy I think it should be a required school course to be taught self defense. Not to kill, but how to defend yourself from harm. So many violent activities take place everyday. A robber may chose you to walk up to and point a gun at. Would you honestly know what to do? Not a lot of people would. Protecting ourselves is our right, and sometimes that means someones life.

4/16/2012
Benson/AZ
Victoria
Mr. Sorenson/BHS
Yes i do have a right to self defense; If i feel that someone is going to attack me then i will do everything to defend myself. I believe the constitution needs some revisions and updating but not to much, in this case of Zimmerman i feel that he got lucky with a law that was passed to ultimately protect people not shoot every person you think looks "suspicious and high on drugs". Stand your ground does stand within rights, but what about Trayvon and his rights?..

4/16/2012
Montana
Ande
Ms. Gunderson
The Stand Your Ground law was intended for people who are being attacked or are in a life-threatening situation. George Zimmerman was not being attacked and took his understanding of this law too far. The 16 year old boy was unarmed and simply walking down the street with a hood on.

4/16/2012
sidney MT
cody daleske
Mrs. Gunderson
I think that you do have the right to self-defence and stand your ground does does fall under these rights. If they come onto your land you have the right to protect your property. However i dont think that watchmen should be just shooting people that they think is a threat.

4/16/2012
sidney mt
zack gilligan
ms gunderson
Zimmerman took his 'power' of a watchman too far if a situation arises that he needed extreme force he should of left it to the police to handle. the police are more qualified to handle the situation

4/16/2012
Sidney,MT
Deserae
Ms.Gunderson
To a certain degree I belive the Stand Your Ground policy is a right. I don't think you should be able to shoot someone and say it was self-defense if the other person is unarmed. In this case it was a 16 year old vs. an adult with a gun and really the only thing he had on the kid was that he looked suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie. Even if he did try to attack Zimmerman it could have been handled alot better then someone getting killed.

4/16/2012
Sidney, MT
Nicole
Ms. Gunderson
I believe the Stand Your Ground policy is an unenumerated right. I do not believe Zimmerman had a reasonable excuse to kill the 16-year-old. Although, I do believe everybody has the right to defend themselves and their family if they are in danger.

4/16/2012
Sidney, MT
Ashley
Ms. Gunderson
I believe that i have the constitutional right to self-defense. I believe that if Stand Your Ground laws are used properly then they are within your rights. You can't use Stand Your Ground law if someone barely touches you. There has to be probable cause that this person is going to seriously harm you. In this case of Trayvon Martin I don't think Zimmerman had the right to kill him. Zimmerman had already called the police and they were more than likely on their way to check things out. This also depends on how bad the aggression was or if there even was any. If Martin barely threw a punch that does not warrant Zimmerman to shoot Martin.

4/16/2012
Sidney, MT
Andrew C.
Ms. Laura/ Sidney High School
I feel that self-defense is constitutional within the 9th Amendment. Yes, the Stand Your Grond law gives people the right to protect themselves, when he/or she are under serious threat. No, I believe they are doing this for the people who all have the right life, liberty, and el pursuit of happiness.

4/16/2012
Sidney, MT
Marcus Mayer
Ms. Gunderson
I think that in this case, Zimmerman did not have the right to shoot Martin. The only thing that was suspicious was that the boy was wearing a hoodie. How does that threaten him? A lot of people where hoodies. But in other cases i do think that people have the right to self-defence. If states have agreed to sign the Stand Your Ground Policy then it should be ok for someone to proctet themselves, especially if they feel threatened. I also believe that they should look over this policy and make it a little more reasonable. Zimmerman did not feel threatened by this kid.

4/16/2012
Sidney, MT
Steffan Anderson
Ms. Gunderson
The Stand Your Ground policy is designed for those occasions where someone truely needs to use deadly force to respond to a threat where deadly force will be used. Its horrible that one 16 year old innocent boy was killed, but every day, there are real self defense situations where the Stand Your Ground policy saves innocent, family-protecting citicens from jail, and this policy must not be compromised, because of one instance where it was misused.

4/16/2012
benson AZ
Jonathan M
mr. sorensen benson high
Well, if someone seems as if they are going to attack you, or kill you, i think that every one should have the right to protect themselves over situations like that. Because its taking self defense over someone your think could be putting your life at risk. Its been well known that if someone is on drugs, like high off of meth or cocaine, that they could possibly be a threat to you or your life. So if martin was high off of some drug like that, then its possible he could have maybe tried attacking zimmerman and in which would have caused zimmerman to shoot martin.

4/13/2012
benson/ arizona
jonathan sooter
marv sorenson
first of all i think that stand your groundm law is stupid for so many reasons yes great that if your in danger use force to defend yourself but honestly did this zimmerman evem say if the kid attacked him at all i think not so heres my qustion was martin at fault or was he a victim of someone that got trigger happy becuase he thought the kid was a threat only because he was wearing a hoodie. come on that is a load of cow pie and the reason i think this wghole affair is stupid, along with being infurating is did he once say he was attacked by the kid and was the kid on drugs and if not send zimmerman stright to jail becuase i honestly think that if nigher of those things happened then its legal man slughter if they keep that stand your ground law in place thats all i have to say.

4/13/2012
Benson AZ
Richard Chester
Mr. Sorensen
Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman had shot and killed 16 year old Trayvon Martin. but he was not aressted or charged witha crime. Zimmerman was protected by the law Stand your Ground. "The law states that if people are feel threatend or feel like there life is threatend dont have to retreat but stand your ground and meet force with force." People do have a right for self defense, if someone is comming to attack and you do feel threatend they do have a right to defend themselves.

4/13/2012
Benson/AZ
Nicole
Sorensen/Benson High School
Personally i think Zimmerman should be charged with something. His reasons for suspicion are pretty sketchy, and even if Trayvon did attack him, a grown man should be able to subdue a sixteen year old without the need for deadly force.

4/13/2012
Benson, Az
Shaylene
Sorenson/ Benson High School
I agree with the law. If it falls within the terms of the law then it should be okay that Zimmerman is free. He had reasons to believe Martin was in some way a danger to his health and therefore felt the need to defend himself in a way that killed Martin, for no apparent reason. This case is simple if you follow what the laws says and stay away from the emotional side of it. Yes Martin is dead and yes Zimmerman is free but it falls within the standards of the Stand Your Ground law. Therefore Zimmerman was in the right for what he did and should not be reprimanded for his actions.

4/13/2012
Benson AZ
Austin
Mr Sorensen Benson High School
Undecided

4/13/2012
Benson Arizona
Kendra Marie
Mr.Sorenson Benson High School
First of all, ZImmerman was on a neighborhood watch, he is not a cop, he does not have the right to judge Martin, stating that he was suspicious and possibly high on drugs, and a hoodie is nto appropriate at night? If he wants to wear a hoodie he can, that may be his style, or he's comortable, it is not anything suspicious at all. What was he suspicious of? How did he know he was high, he was not even close to him. He does not have the right to follow Trayvon home at all, and should be informed of stalking, and it says Martin "may" have taken a swing at Zimmernan. noone knows exactly what happened, and even if he did there is no reason to pull out a fire arm and shoot the innocent child. Zimmerman is an adult and could easly defend himself if Martin did. In fact if he hit Trayvon he could get arrested for assualiting a minor but when he shoots him AND KILLS him, he doesnt even get a trail? Really? I think the judgemental "adult" needs to be fully investigated by ACTUAL police!

4/13/2012
benson
dakota w
benson
he sould not have shot he was not thrent be the kid and he had no way of telling if the kid was on druges. zimmerman shot the kid because he was waring a hoodie.

4/13/2012
Benson Arizona
Kendra Marie
Mr.Sorenson Benson High School
First of all, ZImmerman was on a neighborhood watch, he is not a cop, he does not have the right to judge Martin, stating that he was suspicious and possibly high on drugs, and a hoodie is nto appropriate at night? If he wants to wear a hoodie he can, that may be his style, or he's comortable, it is not anything suspicious at all. What was he suspicious of? How did he know he was high, he was not even close to him. He does not have the right to follow Trayvon home at all, and should be informed of stalking, and it says Martin "may" have taken a swing at Zimmernan. noone knows exactly what happened, and even if he did there is no reason to pull out a fire arm and shoot the innocent child. Zimmerman is an adult and could easly defend himself if Martin did. In fact if he hit Trayvon he could get arrested for assualiting a minor but when he shoots him AND KILLS him, he doesnt even get a trail? Really? I think the judgemental "adult" needs to be fully investigated by ACTUAL police!

4/13/2012
Benson/AZ
Danie
Sorenson/Benson
Suspusion is not always a right given to shoot, yes bad people dress that way however you are not allowed to protect yourself until there is a divine right to do 1so and if he never assualted to spoke wrong there was no reason to shoot him.

4/13/2012
Benson Arizona
Ashley Marie Cope
Marv Sorenson, Benson Union High School
I believe that all people do have a right to self defense but Since Martin was not armed, Zimmerman didn't have a reason to need self defense. I don't think that the stand your ground laws fall within that right because, it allows people to act without holding back or thinking the situation through, having the stand your ground allows people to exceed the right to slef defense and over use it. There is no validation that Martin really posed any danger to Zimmermans life, if Martin really posed danger to Zimmerman, Zimmerman should have reacted differently. This case does need more investigation but without the interference of the public and people being biased about the racial factors in the situation.

4/13/2012
Benson. AZ
Jeremy
Sorensen/ Benon high School
I think that you should only be allowed to shoot someone if they are showing or pointing a weapon to you or if a shot is heard. Though Trayvon may have looked suspicious, and may have swung at Zimmerman, Zimmerman, being the older and larger adult, could have restrained him until police got there. There was no good reason for him to be shot. If Zimmerman really had felt in danger, he should have let the police get there and sort everything out.

4/13/2012
Benson/AZ
Darrel
sorenson/Benson
I think that he should have been charged with a crime for the soul fact that he shot and kill a kid that was only 16. And no matter his place in the community.

4/13/2012
Benson Arizona
Alexandria
Mr. Sorensen/ Benson High School
Zimmerman had no reason to call the police, or follow the boy. What was so suspicious anyways? There was no crime, He was stalking him for no reason. Zimmerman chose to not wait for police to arrive, and be the aggressor without reason and used unreasonable deadly force. Stand your ground does not apply to this case.

4/13/2012
benson
ashlee
sorenson
i think that if you are protecting yourself then that is one thing. but i don't believe that the man who killed Trayvon had any right to kill him. i believe that it was a hate crime.

4/13/2012
benson az
Dustin
sorenson
i think the officer had to do what hes gotta do thats all

4/13/2012
Irving/Tx
Randie
Bradley/ Nimitz
I do agree with the Constitutional right to self-defense. Because if you don't look out for yourself, then no one else will. However, I do not agree that the Stand Your Ground laws fall within that right. I think this law should only be used if you are about to be attacked or someone has a weapon and they are about to harm you. Because clearly Trayvon Martin didn't have a gun, and he was killed based on what Zimmerman thought not proof. I think that this law encourages you to exceed the right to this law. (And personally I believer that Zimmerman should be charged with murder, because he killed an innocent young man just because he was wearing a hoodie at night time. In Florida it rains a lot, so Martin could have had a legitimate reason to be wearing a hood.)

4/12/2012
Benson/ AZ
Robert Cordova
Sorensen/ Benson High School
I believe that the officer should be repremanded for his actions, but i also believe that it isn't his fault. Trayvon knew what he was wearing wasn't appropriate to be walking around late at night, and the officer undoubtedly shouted a warning, or let him know he was crossing dangerous paths. Trayvon should have known better than to provoke him and put the officers life in a panic. The officer shouldn't have shot him to death, but fired a warning and then if things got out of hand, he could have taken him down. Who knows that Trayvon didnt put the officers life in danger, what happened happened, and the police need to thoroughly investigate without the publics interference.

4/12/2012
Benson/Arizona
Paxton
Mr.Sorenson/ Bhs
yes, but look at this way my opinon is not vaild weather he was murdered or shot in self defense but if some one attacks you you can shoot them

4/12/2012
Benson/AZ
Cassie
Mr. Sorenson
I think that everyone has a right to self-defense, but to an extent. The Stand Your Ground law does not fall within the rights of the constitution. Yes he was a policeman and he did believe Martin to be suspicious, but he had no reasonable evidence against Martin to be following him or search him or anything. What Zimmerman should have done is gone and got a warrant with probable cause, not that he was wearing a hoodie, and then talked to Martin. What did Martin do that was such a threat? I believe that people have a right to self-defense, and if Martin took a swing at Zimmerman then Zimmerman can swing back. If Martin pulls a gun then Zimmerman can pull a gun. But I don't believe he should go free for this one, because I don't think the Stand Your Ground law is completely constitutionally correct.

4/12/2012
Benson
Chace
Mr. Sorensen
He had every right to shoot that kid. He didn't know what that kid was doing. Why he was there. The hoodie is a perfectly good reason as well. Do you have any idea how many weapons can be hidden inside a hoodie, or how often they are used to try and conceal ones identity, because they are doing something wrong? and if the kid was acting funny, the other guy thought he was high? who knows what kinds of drugs he is on. Crazy meth head can do all kinds of stuff for no reason. I would have shot him too. Its part of the second amendment that we are allowed to bear arms. There should be no restrictions on our ability to not only carry weapons, to protect ourselves but also enjoy it as a pass time. He was also in fear for his life, entirely reasonable to shoot some one if you feel threatened. for reasons not necessarily limited to the ones I already listed he was entirely entitled to be afraid for his life. They are also playing to much on the sixteen year old part. That kid is just as capable of using a hand gun or a knife or brass knuckles as a full grown adult. He is just as dangerous. I feel he is an innocent man and should not be charged with a crime just because he protected himself. If you fee threatened, you effeminate the threat, and make it so it will never pose a threat to you again.

4/11/2012
Aurora, OH
Becca S.
Mr. Frankmann/Harmon
I think that self-defense should be allowed. This is because when someone it trying to attack you in any way you should be able to be allowed to protect yourself. In other situations you shouldn’t. This is because in some cases some murderers use “self-defense” as their excuse. They claim that the person they may, or may not have, murdered hurt them first. I think, if they were in that case lying to keep themselves from going into jail, should not be allowed. Self-defense should come as right to us, even if people misuse it. I also think that Stand Your Ground would fall within this right because it is a form of self-defense. In my opinion, I still find the Zimmerman guilty because, we don’t have any proof that it was self-defense. Overall, I think that self-defense should be allowed most of the time.

4/11/2012
Chicago, IL
Mickey
Lutheran
Zimmerman called the police why? What was so suspicious about a kid walking? Zimmerman was not witnessing a crime in progress yet he continued following a kid. Zimmerman was not justified to even approach this child. Zimmerman chose to not wait on police and be the aggressor without reason and used unreasonable deadly force. Stand your ground does not apply to this case.

4/11/2012
Aurora.OH
Trevor
Mr.Frankmann/Harmon
Yes, we should have a constitutional right to self defense. We should be able to defend ourselves and Stand our ground. However, the evidence must really prove you were threatened. I don't believe Mr. Zimmerman was threatened, took this law to the exteremes. He should be charged.

4/10/2012
Aurora ohio
Katie C.
Mr. Frankmann, Harmon
I think that self defense should be aloud most of the time. This is because if someone is trying to like shoot you and others you should be aloud to protect yourself and the others. I mean most people will just try to save themselves and everyone else right away, they wouldnt think about wheather it is right or not. I think most of the time it is okay. For example , in school we use ALICE for self defense. This is to help save our selfs and others as much as we are able to. The teachers want us to throw things, or run or do whatever is best to help save ourselfs. I also think sometimes when people say it was for self defence they are lying to just get away with it, but i think most of the time self defence should be aloud.

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