Lloyd Waters: Stand your ground or lie quietly dead?

April 22, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

If you had a choice to “stand your ground” or “lie quietly dead” while someone was stealing your life’s savings or trying to do harm to your loved ones, which option would you choose?

No really, if someone broke into your house under the influence of some crazed drug trance and threatened to harm your family, what exactly would you do?

Although the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin incident has provoked a further debate on this issue, I’m not sure that the Florida law should be even applied in that case.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law enables individuals who feel threatened in a public place to “meet force with force,” rather than back away.

If this principal guideline is applied at all, it could be equally used as a defense for Trayvon Martin as well as Zimmerman.  I’m certain if Martin were alive, his explanation of events would be that someone was “stalking” him for no good reason, a physical confrontation occurred, and he was shot.

Trayvon Martin was as likely “standing his ground” as many have suggested that Zimmerman was doing the same.

I believe, both, however, probably had the opportunity to retreat.

Before abolishing the Florida law, however, I think a lengthy discussion should occur.

I can think of many, many situations where justification in standing your ground is legitimate.

I still remember the vicious crime of a home invasion in Connecticut in the summer of 2007 when two paroled felons on a drug binge thought they would have some fun at someone else’s misery.

That’s the way it usually happens.

On the night of the crime, Dr. William Petit was seriously injured by the attacking assailants.

Before the night was over, Petit’s wife, Jennifer, was raped and strangled to death. His two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, died from smoke inhalation after the intruders set a fire, and Michaela, who was just 11 at the time, was raped before her death.

Can you imagine the emotions of Petit on that night, during the trial and afterwards?

Maybe if Connecticut had a Stand Your Ground law and maybe if Petit had a weapon to protect his family, the Petit family would be preparing for a summer vacation this year and the bad guys might be suffering the consequences of their misdeeds.

Or how about more recently in Michigan, when Abreeya Brown, 18, and Ashley Conaway, 22, were kidnapped from their home in Hamtramek, placed in a car trunk, and transported to a wooded area northwest of Detroit and then killed and buried in a shallow grave.

When the alleged kidnappers and murderers came to the house where the girls were staying, Abreeya Brown’s stepdad, Major Chatman, heard the commotion and as the two women were being  pulled  from the house, he retrieved a firearm and exchanged gunfire with one of the kidnappers.

Had he been a little better shot, maybe the bad guys would be paying a price for their dastardly deeds, and his stepdaughter, Abreeya, and her friend, Ashley, might still be alive.

I’m certain Chatman loved his stepdaughter in the same way any parent loves a daughter.

President Obama expressed an opinion on Trayvon Martin’s incident; I wonder how he feels about those murders of Abreeya and Ashley?

Would the president favor a Stand Your Ground law in those two examples provided?

Maybe, too, Albert Einstein’s observation many years ago still applies today:

“The world is a dangerous place to live — not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

If someone experienced a situation similar to that described above in Connecticut or Michigan, there would be two obvious choices.

Either stand your ground or lie quietly dead.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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