5. Never forget guns dont kill people, people kill people– they just help.
The use of deadly force is never a preordained matter when someone claims self-defense, it is a justificatory act one in which the civil powers excuses your conduct because under the law your act will not be punished under the circumstances. A person may use deadly force only when they are without fault and they are confronted with imminent unlawful force. In rare cases an aggressor may also use deadly force if he attempts to withdraw from the initial aggression and the victim suddenly escalates and the initial aggressor cannot withdraw from the altercation. Mr. Zimmerman appears to have been the initial aggressor in this case and on the facts it had escalated to a degree that Mr. Zimmerman was unable to withdraw safely. If this is the case then his actions may be justified under the law regardless or Mr. Zimmerman’s careless and overzealous confrontation. But the issue becomes a little tricky because a person may use force even deadly force to resist arrest if the person attempting to arrest does not identify himself or the reason for the attempted arrest. In this case we do not know if Mr. Zimmerman did identify the reasons to Trayvon, if he did not Trayvon Martin would be justified in resisting, that would be the case even if Mr. Zimmerman was an officer under state jurisdiction.
Under Florida law the right to self-defense has been put into statute and allows a person to “stand their ground” when threatened with imminent harm. This “real man” doctrine has been part of the common law for centuries, but was mainly to do with armed robberies, kidnappings and rape not acts of initial aggression. Some states had changed that and required a person to retreat if he could do so safely. But in this case the Florida law is not applicable because Mr. Zimmerman was not threatened under its provisions with imminent harm, robbery, kidnapping or rape. Mr. Zimmerman was the aggressor. Thus this statute is not even implicated in this case, what is is the common law right of self-defense, the natural inherent right that Justice Scalia asserts we all possess (In good ol’ Heller). What this statute does is miscommunicate the law of self-defense and allows people to go out and act aggressively believing they can hide behind the statute if something should occur. The Times reported that justifiable homicides tripled after the law went into effect in Florida and that it has been invoked in at least 93 cases with 65 deaths. Today at least 20 other states have followed suit. This misconception is no different than what the common belief was about the right to possess arms under the Second Amendment prior to Heller.
This is a dangerous game the law is playing with peoples lives.
This is my break with objectivty: I will not even begin to touch on the issue of race, I have written about it so much and its too frustrating everytime I see something like this in the news. Any belief in a utopian America has long run its course. In simple english: Mr. Zimmerman had a gun saw an African-American kid walking down the street and approaced him despite repeated requests not to. That is not to say he would not have approached a white kid but it made his choice easier that Trayvon was black. He had no reason to suspect that Trayvon had or was involved in any kind of criminality unless you could eating skittles illegal. It got out of control when Trayvon wouldnt be bullied. If the facts reveal that this was about race it is just one more episode in a never ending saga about race, crime and guns in America.
LAW 101: My analysis may change as any first year law student can tell you everything depends on the facts. Change the facts and you change the analysis. As we begin to flesh out the facts it is possible that this case may turn out to be something completely different.