Stand Your Ground

Posted by Badger Coach on May 29th, 2014

The “Not Guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial should give every American, regardless of race, reason to pause. Not because of the racial biases and prejudices expressed by George Zimmerman, his supporters, and by some of the jurors, but because of a State law that has the power to take away your constitutional civil liberties.

It has been said by many in the media, such as Judge Debra Nelson, Florida State’s Special Prosecutor Angela Crowley, and defense attorney Mark O’Mara, that a State law known in more than 24 States as the Stand Your Ground Law, was not used as a defense in the George Zimmerman murder trial. And yet it was in the trial. In fact, it was in the jury deliberation room, as jurors were instructed by the judge to use the Stand Your Ground Law as part of their deliberation process.

The Law

In the juror instructions section titled, Justifiable Use of Deadly Force, jurors were allowed to consider the following when deciding whether to find George Zimmerman guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter:  The jury instructions read as follows:

“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. You should find George Zimmerman not guilty.”

The Problem

A careful review of the Stand Your Ground Law reveals how this law can create an opportunity for a person harboring hate, intolerance, or prejudices towards another person, as was the case Michale Dunn, who shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis for playing loud music in his SUV, outside a convenience store, to become the judge, jury, and executioner based simply on his or her “belief” that a crime is about to take place or that they are in fear of bodily harm and not have any proof that either are imminent. In essence, this law allows such a person to take the law into his or her own hands and not be held accountable.

At the end of the day, the Stand Your Ground Law takes away your right to defend yourself, have the presumption of innocence, or the right to due process.  And to make matters worse, there is no uniform standard application of the law, as judges can decide who may or may not successfully assert the Stand Your Ground Law as a pre-trial defense, and thus stay out of jail until convicted by a jury of their peers.

The Solution

While marching at the state and national level have worked in the past to change flawed laws, a more progressive approach is needed to change current laws that are unfair or have negative unintended consequences. To that end, I suggest a three-pronged approach to amend this law.

  • National march to the voting booth to replace any elected or appointed politician (local, state and federal) who voted for the Stand Your Ground Law, and elect representatives who will amend it with more suitable language
  • Public disclosure of politicians and corporations found supporting the Stand Your Ground Law
  • Economic sanctions (boycott) against corporations (check your 401k and IRA account) supporting politicians, corporations, or organizations advancing or otherwise backing the current version of the Stand Your Ground Law

Another way for you to take action today is to rid (divest) your 401(k), IRA , Exchange Traded Fund, of mutual funds that use your money to support gun manufacturers and other sponsors of the Stand Your Ground Law.  You can do this by becoming what is known as a Socially Responsible Investor (SRI). To become a SRI, you can call the mutual fund company or a financial professional, to provide you with information outlining the percentage of your 401(k) or IRA money that is being directed to organizations promoting agendas that are not in line with your values. If the fund company or financial adviser hinders, downplays, or otherwise tries to dissuade you from getting the information you need, let me know.

At the end of the day it is up to you to put your money where your mouth is. The performance of your portfolio is not based on whether it designated as an SRI or not, it is based on how well the fund managers contain costs, risk and make the right investments. If enough women will become SRI’s, the fund managers, who are mostly men, will listen. The reason they will listen is because their compensation is based on total Assets Under Management (AUM).  A decline in AUM will definitely get the fund managers undivided attention.

As someone who grew up using rifles to shoot moose, deer, jack rabbits, and ducks for food, and used pistols for target practice, I am a supporter of the right to hunt and to bear arms. However, I am not a supporter of a law that sends law-abiding citizens to their grave because of another person’s alleged perception or questionable belief.

If the gun is the great equalizer, then your political and economic capital are the great enforcers.

Use your hard-earned money to Protect Your Ground!

 

 

 

Disclaimer

The opinions expressed are those of the author and is for educational purposes only, and not an offer to buy or sell securities. As always, please consult with a qualified legal, tax, investment or insurance professional before making any financial decision. Investing involves significant risk, even the loss of capital. Invest only what you can afford to lose. Guarantees provided by an insurance company are based on its claims paying ability.

 

 

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