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Cheryl Cook

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July 18, 2013
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Stand Your Ground law bad for victims

In reference to Gene Lyons’ column, “Zimmerman verdict tragic but correct” (The Union, July 18):

In 2005, George Zimmerman was charged with “resisting an officer with violence” and “battery of a law enforcement officer.”

The officer didn’t shoot him.

Before the Zimmerman jury was sent into deliberations, jury members were given the following instruction:

“If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

In 2005, the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) Criminal Justice Task Force, co-chaired by Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest seller of rifles, ratified the NRA’s bill and enacted the Stand Your Ground Law, which was eventually adopted in 26 states, including Florida.

Trayvon Martin had the same right to meet force with force. Zimmerman was a stranger who chose not to identify himself as a member of Neighborhood Watch, not to wait for the police officer to arrive but to struggle with a young man who had just celebrated his 17th birthday three weeks previously. And shoot him in the heart.

Stand Your Ground is a bad law. It is an NRA-backed broadening of gun rights based solely on a subjective decision by the gun owner. The victim has no rights at all.

Did George Zimmerman “reasonably believe” his injury to his nose and back of his head to be life threatening? He refused treatment for his bloody nose and cuts to the back of his head until the following day.

ALEC is a group of state legislators and corporate lobbyists funded by the most powerful corporations in the United States. They write legislation benefitting corporate interests, not so much the common man.

Thanks to ALEC’s Stand Your Ground Law, not only is it less safe for unarmed citizens to walk the streets and hold perpetrators responsible for the death of a citizen, but also more difficult to hold corporations responsible for causing death or injury. Seventy-one ALEC bills introduced in 2013 would weaken the legal rights of the common citizen to take legal action against oil, tobacco, pharmaceutical and health insurance companies.

ALEC, which is overwhelmingly Republican in membership, has written legislation that makes it harder to vote, destroys unions, protects corporations from civil liability and suppresses environmental protection, all in the name of furthering corporate power and profit in this country.

The next time you hear certain politicians speak of Americans losing their rights and freedom in this country, ask yourself: Who is responsible?

Obama? Or the NRA, GOP, ALEC, KOCH and the multimillion dollar legislative machine that operates behind closed doors?

It’s too late to ask Trayvon Martin.

Cheryl Cook lives in Nevada City.


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The Union Updated Jul 18, 2013 11:34PM Published Jul 18, 2013 11:34PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.