Teen's death shines light on South Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" law
Mon, 26 Mar 2012 22:30:24 GMT —
The killing of a Florida teenager is bringing attention to South Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Last month, George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin while the young man was on his way home.
Florida authorities have yet to charge Zimmerman, and his attorney sayS if his client is charged, they'll use Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law as a defense.
23 other states including South Carolina have some form of the law.
The law has been enforced in South Carolina since 2006 as an extension of the "Castle Doctrine" which allows you to protect yourself if an intruder comes in your home.
The law allows you - in a public place - the right to defend yourself with a deadly weapon if you have a reasonable belief a possible attacker intends to kill you.
Under the law, you would be free from prosecution.
Last Thursday, State Rep. (D) Bakari Seller of Denmark introduced a bill that would repeal the "Stand Your Ground" law.
"It saddens me that it took the death of a young 17-year-old boy to bring to light and review some of the laws that are currently on our books," said Bakari.
"You should not just be allowed to have fear of a person and that person be near you and you be allowed to shoot them. For me that poses a fundamental problem, and it imposes too much subjectivity in the law," said Bakari. "By no means did the "Stand Your Ground" cause the death of this young man, but it prevented justice from happening."
Myrtle Beach defense lawyer Greg McCollum said while the law is being openly criticized as a result of the Trayvon Martin case, it's necessary in some instances.
"I think, in general, the law is well intended, and people have a legal right to protect themselves if they're being threatened or harmed," said McCollum.
He doesn't object to the law but does worry about the part that protects people from prosecution, said McCollum.
"In other words, that person cannot be legally prosecuted and that is something that is difficult to figure out how that can be applied in the real world in our present court system."
Sellers' bill is now being discussed in a House Judiciary Committee.
Sellers said he does not want to make the "Stand Your Ground" law a debate on race but a debate on right and wrong.
"Whether or not, this law is just amended to clarify the language, I want there to be action taken because one Trayvon Martin is enough," said Sellers.