Using the Zimmerman Case to Campaign Against "Stand Your Ground" is a Non-Starter

Written by Mark O'Mara.

I’ve watched the “Stand Up to ‘Stand Your Ground’” PSA several times now. The PSA features a dramatic reenactment of the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. While the PSA uses actual audio from George’s non-emergency call and witness 911 calls, the visual details of the reenactment are wildly inaccurate and they are unsupported by the actual evidence. By airing an interpretation of events that are easily dismissed as factual fantasy, the proponents for changes in the self-defense statutes in various states are actually damaging their arguments. I have stated that Florida Statute 776 can use some polishing to address a person’s ability to retreat from a situation before using deadly force. But attempting an unsupported attack on the entire statute based solely on emotion will only cause doors to close and ears to go deaf.

The George Zimmerman case was not a ‘stand your ground’ case; it was clearly traditional self-defense, and therefore any campaign for the repeal of ‘stand your ground’ laws predicated on the facts of the Zimmerman case is a non-starter, and any campaign that relies on misrepresentations and misinformation is doomed to fail. Those who wish to effect a valid, rational modification of these principles of self-defense must do so with logic and fact on their side. If we are going to have a conversation about ‘stand your ground’ that will have results, we must have an honest conversation.