In all the nations and states around the world, shooting someone because they are shouting at you, impeding on you and moving towards you with evident aggression is considered as a crime; this is murder in most of the states. However, with the recently passed (SYG) Stand Your Ground law, people are given the option to use deadly force if there is reason to believe that one is facing such situations as imminent death, rape, serious bodily injuries and kidnappings. The law in some of the states is such that one is allowed to use deadly force against the assailants even when in some situations there is a safe avenue for retreat. SYG law does not only cover an individual but also includes protection against properties, home and family. With the law, those who use excessive force against the perceived aggravator are protected.
With the allowance to use excessive force in cases where one feels threatened, the SYG law has generated a lot of debate and arguments about its application. There are those who will argue that the law has saved many lives or situations which would otherwise have ended up badly in some cases such as death. On the other hand, the SYG law has been used in a negative way. The situation is such that the law has been referred to as the “shoot first” law. There have been countless cases where the law has been abused and used to inflict unnecessary harm and damage to others. As a result, the paper will look at why there is need to re-evaluate the law to make it better and safer for the different areas and regions it is being applied. The SYG law should be changed as it creates vigilantes and enhances racial tension. Excessive force has also been used with the law which has resulted in deaths.
Countless number of books and reference material exist to prove that the SYG law is inappropriate and leads to detrimental effects. Evaluation of the same reveals the various authors who are opposed to the use of the same. Munasib & Guettabi (2011) article on the effect of the SYG(Stand Your Ground) law evaluates the effect of the law in the state of Florida, the first states in America to enact this law. As per his article, it is clear from the case he presents that Munasib & Guettabi (2011) take for the SYG law is that it has led to a negative effect in the state since its enactment. Munasib & Guettabi (2011) work displays no source of biasness and thus can be taken up as a credible and reliable study. Being a research scientist, one is bound to believe his lack of biasness on the issue. The research on the controversial law appears as one of his countless scientific research he is used to thus the results obtained are agreeable.
Munasib & Guettabi (2011) evaluates the various outcomes from the enactment of the law in this case whether there’s a link to the increase of violent crimes, motor or traffic accident deaths, the property crimes and gun deaths. Using the Synthetic Control Method to compare the various scenarios, Munasib & Guettabi (2011) research leads to the discovery that there is a link to the passing of the law and the number of gun deaths in the subsequent years. Though the passing of the law in such a state as Florida was rooted in such scenarios as violent crimes and the justification that the law was passed to provide law abiding citizens with protection against criminal and civil liabilities, five years after the passing of the law, the research established that there has been an approximate 16 percent rise in gun deaths.
Though the study does not establish any links between the passing of the law and the violent crimes, the number of death increase is evidence enough that the enactment of the law has had a negative effect in the society. Had there been a reduction in the same, one would conclude that Munasib & Guettabi (2011) supported the enactment of the law but this is not the case. The increase shows that the law has negatively affected the society. To control such an aspect, there is need to eliminate the same. One limitation however with Munasib & Guettabi (2011) research is that it covers only one state and thus the investigation of more states would have shed more light on the significance of the law in the whole nation and subsequently in the rest of the world. A research in one of the states may not be reliable enough but the fact that there is a negative effect of the law in one of the states that were the first to enact the same means that any research should be able to evaluate and prove that the passing of the SYG has led to some negative effect in this case deaths and thus should be done away with (Wible, 2012).
Another article writer whose discussion and debate can be considered in the evaluation of SYG law is Megale (2010). Just as with Munasib & Guettabi (2011), Megale (2010) evaluates the impact of the SYG law in Florida. However, (Megale’s) does with a different approach where she evaluates the issue from the legislature perspective. Megale (2010) raises the awareness as to the presence of the different perspectives surrounding the law. One is on the limiting effect in the view of those who evaluate the many issues surrounding the law. The other source of difference is that those who engage with the debates on the SYG law do so with the presence of differing value structures Megale (2010) tries to tackle the issue from the legal system position. Megale (2010) uses the jurisprudential model to show the inappropriateness of (SYG) Stand Your Ground law in Florida. The law has seen the legalization of homicide cases through the decriminalization of killings and acts of violence which involve self-defense. According to this author, a wrong was committed in allowing this law to operate in the state as it undermines the human dignity.
For any law to be considered effective, it has to take into consideration control and authority. However, to Megale (2010) the same has not been followed with the enactment of the SYG law in Florida. The effectiveness of authority and control in laws is also put in effect through being consistent with the commonly held values in the community. This being the case, the SYG law thus loses its authority and control as it is inconsistent with the commonly held values in this case the respect for human life. To illustrate the negative consequences of the situation, Megale (2010) looks at the Trayvon Martin shooting and other shootings that have followed since the enactment of the law. The inconsistency in the law and the human values are thus a reason to show that this law has led to the rise of more suffering in the society and thus should be abolished. After identifying the effects of the law and the subsequent interpretation, one can associate with Megale (2010) need and take that there is need to reform and align the law along with the community values in the society. One feels that an evaluation of the effect of the law in other states would have shed more light on the impact of the issue and adds to Megale (2010) case strength.
Another writer who evaluates the issue of the effect of SYG law is Yu (2014). Yu (2014) takes a different approach than the previous two writers evaluated where his case evaluates the advantages that are associated with the application of the SYG law in the Eastern part of US. According to this author, there has been deterrence in the rate of crimes in the concerned areas due to this law. Yu (2014) evaluates the source of the SYG law which in this case is an extension of the Castle Doctrine which gives a person the freedom to justify the use of force as a form of self-defense. This should happen in case there is reasonable believe of an unlawful threat with no obligation to retreat first. The Castle Doctrine was extended to encompass away from home venues and make more self-defense techniques available.
One can see the flaw in Yu (2014) support of the good effects associated with the SYG law such as deterrence of crime. Yu (2014) states that in spite of the law making it the utilization of lethal force easy as a form of self-defense, the impact of the same in the society security is ambiguous. This shows that it is yet to be fully determined whether this law is effective or not. This thus makes one to take Yu (2014) claims as misleading. Yu (2014) also draws the reader to the fact that there have been researches carried out with the aim of establishing the deterrence effect that can be associated with the SYG law and the impact of the same on homicide. As Yu (2014) reveals, there have been no solid answers that have been given to show that the law deters crime. This thus adds to the misleading effect of the article with the take that Yu (2014) should have done more if he wanted the reader to fully agree with him on the positive effects that can be associated with the use and application of SYG law.
Academic knowledge has a huge effect on the social elements and institutions. This happens in both the local and global communities. SYG law is one of the aspects where academic knowledge has played a part in influencing this social element in both the local and global community. Evaluating one of the states which was the first to enact this law, the effect of the same has influenced other states which have followed suit. The academic aspect that is in operation in the case of the SYG law is the legal aspect. For many years, there was in existence an Anglo-American law on self-defense and homicide. Evaluating the law, the statutes have been against homicides and thus prohibiting the unlawful killings. However, the law against homicides has been allowed for the purposes of self- defense. Many in the society have been enlightened of the law which allows a person who is facing attack with deadly force to respond in kind (Wilson, 2013).
The society has been made to understand that a person who is suffering from unlawful aggression is allowed to respond with the force deemed reasonable to protect one self. The law has given the common man the mandate to kill in self-defense as the same is not considered as criminal homicide so long as the person who is defending themselves have a reasonable believe that their life is in imminent danger. Under the self- defense law, there has been an exception, where when one is threatened they can escape from the imminent danger by retreating if they are aware of the presence of such an avenue. The rule in this case attempts to avoid any unnecessary deaths. This exception is made even when there is the presence of an unlawful attacker.
The rule of retreat as this is known has made sense for this entire long until such states as Florida decided to evaluate the same. According to such states that have decided to change this rule, there has been the need to change and expand the rule of retreat from home setting which had been previously covered to the public place; there is no need to retreat. This shows the impact of the knowledge on the societal elements and institutions of the local and global communities. The adoption of the “no retreat in public” aspect is the main feature in Florida’s SYG law. However, the academic effect and impact have played an effect in determining the outcome especially the negative ones that can be associated with the adoption of SYG law. Florida being the first state to enact this law has witnessed over ten years since the adoption of the same (Cross et al., 2009).
The use of research where data is gathered can be used to study the effects of the adoption of the law. The evaluation of the empirical data reveals that there have been loopholes with the adoption of the law. The adoption of the law all around the world in this case the global society has had a huge effect. What those who had decided to adopt the law had in mind has not been the same effect. There has been evidence from the data gathered by such researchers as McClellan & Tekin (2012) to show that the rate of such cases as homicide have increased with the adoption of the law. The increase in unlawful killings as a result of the adoption of the law evident from research has shown that those who believed that the SYG law would lead to a decrease in violent crimes have been wrong. This evaluation thus shows how academic knowledge have had an impact on the social elements and institutions of both the global and legal communities.
Active citizenship plays a huge role where organizations are given responsibilities and roles to the environment and the society. Active citizenship takes into perspective people who have been given responsibilities to uphold by a given body. The levels of carrying out this responsibility vary including nation state levels or even global citizenship. The active citizen is given the mandate to fulfill the responsibilities and rights in a balanced way. Active citizenship will have a huge impact on the issue of SYG (Stand Your Ground) law in the future. The society through active citizenship should be made accountable in the areas where the law is in effect (Warner, 2008).
The issue of enacting the SYG law have shown that there have been the issue of bias as far as the application of the law is concerned. There have been overwhelming evidence to show that the SYG ground has led to racial behavior and biasness. In active citizenship, the aspect of fairness and equality must be taken up and fulfilled. For the people of the various countries, equal treatment should be enhanced even with the SYG law. Everybody is entitled to fair dealing and justice from others and in the respective societies which in this case include the governments. However, this aspect has not sunk in with the law as almost all the involved parties have been carrying out intricate webs of unconscious biasness with there being some preference and disfavor (Yancy & Jones, 2013).
There have been research such as Hawkins, (2003) to show that most of the people in the society associate the blacks with violence. This is unlike in the whites who have not been associated with this aspect. With the lowering of the potential in the cost of engaging in violence, one is in a position to use deadly force in any of the public places even with the presence of a chance to avoid the violence. The law also makes it possible for such systems as the jury and defense to argue that there should be no conviction with such cases. There have been implicit biasness against the blacks with the stand your ground law where blacks are seen to be more likely to be violent or even dangerous. This increases the likelihood of people to shoot the blacks. Those who are armed are more likely to feel fear posed by the blacks thus end up shooting them. Active citizenship therefore has a huge role to play as this are some of the aspects that will affect this issue all over the concerned regions in the future. There is no guarantee that such cases as racial biasness will cease or reduce in the next five to ten years (In Floridi & In Taddeo, 2014).
The aspect of active citizenship will also affect the stand your ground law in the future in the prosecution department. With the law being passed in many of the countries and enhanced through the various justice departments, it has been hard to successfully carry out convictions with the ‘no duty to retreat law.’ Active citizenship will lead to the abolishing of such a law in that it is not enhancing fairness and equality in the society. The lack of convictions means that though the law was passed with the right framework and intention, the same has not been achieved. What the law has done is to undermine the same doctrines it is meant to uphold (McClellan & Tekin, 2012)
The media has been awash with the news of the controversy of the SYG (Stand Your Ground) law. Blogs have been such avenues where there has been the airing of the different takes on the law. In one of the blogs, Strupp (2014) expresses his frustration with the reporting on the SYG law. Though he evaluates the effect in the state of Florida, there is reason to believe that his sentiments can be taken up by the journalists in all the regions and areas where the law has been passed. The article evaluates the passing of a legislative law over the state of Florida, which has consequently made it hard to report on the cases that have to do with the otherwise controversy full law. The various examples to indicate such controversy have been evaluated in the article such as the deaths of Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin. The increase in controversy in such cases is hard to ignore as this is the same law that has been devised to protect the people.
With the expanding of the law in the state to include people who fire the warning shots in order to deter a potential attacker, there is reason to believe that the cases of such unaccounted deaths will even go higher (Wilson, 2013). The records in the cases involving the controversial law as it stands out cannot be accessed and have been kept away from the public. This is damaging to the journalism field. Journalists are supposed and are meant to be the voice of the people. The willingness of the states and others involved with the law to make such information public in such cases should be able to show that there is nothing to hide and the law has been passed to protect the interest of the population. However, this has not happened and thus the more proof that this is a law that is full of controversy. Such laws should not be let to govern the populations.
Strupp (2014) also evaluates the case of other fellow journalists who have come out in opposition to the limit placed in the access of the media coverage from the journalists. Other writers from media houses such as Tampa Bay Times have been vocal in highlighting the presence of controversy in the SYG law. Such media houses have shown the concern in the law through their own investigation where in four out of the five investigated cases have hinted at biasness. There has been the controversy where in the cases involved, most of the homicides have been deemed as justifiable if the victims are black. To Strupp (2014) and fellow journalist, the closing of the records away from the media and the placing of the violence cases in the dark is not a good idea as it is against democracy. With a law that has been passed to protect the people, it is apparent that the same has failed as democracy is part and parcel of protecting the people.
To the journalists and the other stakeholders involved with the stand your ground law, they rely on the hundreds of arrest and court records. The records are a clear indication of the success of any process . With the little evidence gathered by the journalists from the records they have come across, the group has been able to show that the law has been interpreted in varying ways with no uniform approach. There is enough reason to believe that there is bound to be many forms of biasness from such a law (Yancy & Jones, 2013). There have been different judges who have been faced with cases to do with the SYG law and have made different decisions. This makes the law to be expanded far beyond what many of the legislators may have anticipated and thus uneven application of the same. The biasness is open and thus there is reason to say that the SYG ( Stand Your Ground) law should be changed in all the states.
Though crafted with the right intentions in mind, the SYG (Stand Your Ground) law has been a failure in most of the regions it is in application. The law places the responsibility to the people of deciding on their own which instances qualify as threatening and consequently use necessary force. Being an issue that directly impacts the society, there thus arises the need to be concerned. The law is marred by controversy. There have been the use of the law against a section of the society in this case the blacks. Many are the case when people of black origin have been perceived as a threat thus end up being shot. Such cases of biasness along the racial lines makes it necessary to change the law. There have been the varying interpretations by the various law systems. The same enhances and makes it possible for huge loopholes to be present when it comes to convictions. The fact that judges do not read from the same script is enough reason for the society to be concerned. When such aspects are present in the systems that govern the society, there is need to re-evaluate them thus the need to change the SYG (Stand Your Ground law.
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