As the dust settles, and the last of the protestors have made their way home, or taken down their black squares and hooded pictures from Facebook, the anger, sadness and fear around the Trayvon Martin case still bubbles to the surface for many individuals as they ponder the ramifications. The center of their attention is Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law and the loopholes and wording that concerns not only Florida residents, but also the residents of the other 25 states in the Union that have similar Stand Your Ground laws on the books. One of those Stand Your Ground law states, is Nevada.
Michael Becker, an attorney for the Las Vegas Defense Group, states on his website that there are many self-defense cases in Las Vegas that usually revolve around drinking. People come to Vegas to have a good time, get out of hand, and the perceived need to inflict bodily harm in defense of yourself, or someone else is quite common.
The Nevada Stand Your Ground Law differs from others because it allows someone to not only use justifiable force in the protection of themselves and their property, but also in the protection of someone else who is perceived to be in danger. The controversy with Stand Your Ground Laws comes from the law’s wording, and the idea of using fear in the execution of self-defense, as stated in section two of the law, which reads, “A bare fear of any of the offenses in NRS 200.120 to prevent which the homicide is alleged to have been committed, is sufficient to justify the killing. It must appear that the person who committed the killing really acted under the influence of that fear and not in a spirit of revenge.”
Marriage and family counselor Rawl Campbell-Dunn fears for the safety of her sons because of the wording of the Nevada Stand Your Ground Law. “The Stand Your Ground Laws make me fear for my sons because racism is alive and well and anyone who doesn’t like any group of people can just go around killing them using their perceived fear as a defense,” says Campbell-Dunn. Campbell-Dunn continued, “The problem with the Stand Your Ground Law is that it is subjective. When you make a law it’s not like you have all the answers and you don’t know what all of the outcomes or repercussions of making the law will be. Fear is subjective. Someone who fears spiders is afraid for their life but they aren’t really in any danger. A person could fear for their life just because young non-white youths pull up in a car with loud music. That doesn’t mean those youths are dangerous but they can still be perceived as dangerous. The problem is the definition of fear. Because it goes to what the person was thinking or feeling at the time. If you are really in fear for your life you aren’t consciously thinking or feeling at the moment and no one will have a clear memory of what happened moment by moment.”
Nevada crime statistics show that there has not been a substantial increase in justifiable homicides since the enactment of Stand Your Ground Laws and in fact there has been a slight decrease in murders since the enactment of Stand Your Ground. Many are still afraid that Stand Your Ground Laws will open the door to another Trayvon Martin-like incident in their own backyard. Melvin Kirkwood, a long time Las Vegas resident stated his feelings about the Stand Your Ground law, “It scares me to death, it feels like you not only have to worry about road rage or random violence but now you have to fight human irrational fears.”
By Deneishia Jacobpito
Photo by Garry Wilmore – Flickr License