A gun reform advocacy group is taking aim at Stand Your Ground laws nationwide by pushing a chilling ad reenacting the last moments of Trayvon Martin’s life.
The PSA, created by the nonprofit group The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, also uses actual audio from the 911 calls George Zimmerman and a witness made the night the neighborhood watchman shot and killed the unarmed teen. Haunting screams, believed to be Trayvon begging for help, can be heard just before a single gunshot rings out; after the gunshot, people in hoodies, lay on the ground staring into the darkness, with the names of 27 states that have Stand Your Ground laws in place flashing across their bodies.
The nonprofit group also launched a website and petition asking people to insist their state lawmakers “oppose this immoral legislation.”
“Stand Your Ground laws have essentially legalized murder,” said CSGV’s communications director, Ladd Everitt. “With this PSA, we hope to add to the nationwide push to repeal these immoral laws.”
We couldn’t agree with CSGV more. Stand Your Ground grants immunity to criminal charges and civil action for citizens who can show they were justified in using deadly force against a threat of imminent death or severe bodily harm, regardless of whether they could have retreated.
It is the potential for that defense in the Zimmerman trial, and later in the shooting death of another Florida teen, Jordan Davis, by a man mad that Jordan and his friends refused to turn down their car music, that reignited debate on gun laws and the efficacy of Stand Your Ground. We here at MyBrownBaby firmly believe that it puts too much power into the hands of untrained gun owners and allows people to think they can kill at will.
A Texas A&M study distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research backs this up. The study, which examined homicides in 20 states with Shoot First laws, found an annual increase of 700 more homicides. FBI data also showed an increase in the number of justifiable homicides following enactment of Shoot First laws, including in Florida, where the rate rose almost 200 percent.
Equally disturbing was a finding that when it comes to race, Stand Your Ground laws tend to favor Whites. Researchers at the Urban Institute investigating the racial impact of the laws found that when White shooters kill Black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable. Only three percent of deaths get a similar ruling when the roles are reversed.
Of course, Stand Your Ground laws are backed by the National Rifle Association and other conservative groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, one of the chief architects of the law. And while our state legislators defend those laws, or turn deaf ears to our demands that they be dismantled, our children continue to be assaulted by the hands of people who profile our children and then hide behind the laws to justify murder.
Watch the PSA below and support the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence by signing it’s Stand Your Ground petition. Trayvon and Jordan’s deaths must not be in vain.
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.