A Deeper Look at Stand Your Ground

The Tampa Bay Times has done a real service for those of us looking to better understand how Stand Your Ground works in Florida on an individual level. Linked here is a list of victims killed by people invoking SYG. I encourage anyone interested in the Trayvon Martin case to dig into this database, and the stories behind them. 

I still think Stand Your Ground laws are a really bad idea. Nevertheless what you find here is not scores of Trayvon Martin, but host of incidents where morality is all over the map. Take the case of Peter and Anthony Julien who killed Brandon and Martin Martinez:

Two brothers came home to find intruders in their house. They approached them with guns and when they saw one of the men aiming his own gun, they opened fire. One robber wound up dead and another was wounded. "I could have called 911 and in two days they let him go and they do it again," Anthony Julien was quoted as saying in the Orlando Sentinel after the break-in. "We shot first and then called 911."

The braggadocio is really disturbing. And yet I strongly believe that if you break into someone's house, and pull guns on them, you have effectively put your life on the shelf.

Or the killing of Dyalan Nuno:

Jorge Saavedra, 14, fatally stabbed Dylan Nuno, 16, at a school bus stop. Saavedra had gotten off the bus early trying to avoid a fight. Testimony showed that Saavedra, who claimed Nuno bullied him and teased him about his learning disabilities, was trying to get away from Nuno and a group of his friends when he was punched in the back of the head. Witnesses said he continued to try to get away. But soon he took out a pocketknife and stabbed Nuno 12 times. One of the thrusts nicked Nuno's heart. Both boys were students at Palmetto Ridge High School.

A street shootout in Tallahassee between two groups of men left a suspected gang member, 15-year-old Michael Jackson, dead. Prosecutors charged the man who brought Jackson to the shootout, 20-year-old Jamal Taylor, with manslaughter. Also charged with manslaughter were two members of the rival group, Jeffrey Brown, 23, and Andrae Tyler, 23. The person who shot Jackson was not identified. Both groups said the other side fired first in the gun battle which was in retaliation for an earlier argument and shooting. Police said more than 30 shots were fired during the Holton Street incident.

More in the article. Dig in. There's lots of meat. Forgive my lack of conclusions. I'm still digging myself.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus


A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book


The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"


This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.


What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in National

From This Author

Just In