The Authors of Stand Your Ground Speak Out

by Robert VerBruggen

In my homepage piece this morning (and a subsequent Corner post), I argued that if Florida’s Stand Your Ground law protects Trayvon Martin’s shooter, the law should be changed. George Zimmerman was not standing his ground; he actively chased down an innocent 17-year-old and ended up killing him.

However, I (and others) have also expressed the reservation that the law might not apply to Zimmerman. It does not apply to people who are breaking the law, and Zimmerman’s pursuit of Martin might constitute assault; also, it applies only if a person reasonably feels that life or limb is at stake, and it’s doubtful that the younger, smaller Martin could have posed such a threat.

Now the law’s authors have spoken publicly, and they say Stand Your Ground is not an issue here:

They believe it has been misapplied in the shooting death of Trayvon by a Sanford crime-watch captain, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman has not been charged because, police said, it appears he acted in self-defense. The Seminole County state attorney’s office decided Tuesday to take the case before a grand jury.

“They got the goods on him. They need to prosecute whoever shot the kid,” said Peaden, a Crestview Republican who sponsored the deadly force law in 2005. “He has no protection under my law.”

Peaden and Baxley, R-Ocala, say their law is a self-defense act. It says law-abiding people have no duty to retreat from an attacker and can meet “force with force.” Nowhere does it say that a person has a right to confront another.

The 911 tapes strongly suggest Zimmerman overstepped his bounds, they say, when the Sanford neighborhood crime-watch captain said he was following Trayvon and appeared to ignore a police request to stay away.

“The guy lost his defense right then,” said Peaden. “When he said ‘I’m following him,’ he lost his defense.”

Peaden and Baxley said they didn’t know all the facts of the case, so their interpretations of what happened could change if new information arises during the investigation.