Following the murder of Trayvon Martin in Florida, Dateline‘s Amos Roberts has been looking into their gun laws, which allow people to use lethal force against others, if they believe their life in in danger.
But is self defence being used to get away with murder?
The tragic killing of a young black man, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, by a neighbourhood watchman in Florida earlier this year has generated worldwide media interest and drawn attention to the state’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ gun law.
Since the law was introduced in 2005, the rate of justifiable homicide in Florida has almost tripled. On Tuesday, Dateline’s Amos Roberts reports from Florida, with a closer look at the law that allows people to use lethal force against others – not just in their own homes, but anywhere they have a legal right to be – if they believe their life is in danger.
It took six weeks and enormous public pressure before George Zimmerman, who claimed he was acting in self-defence, was charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin. There are many people, like Martin’s parents, living with the devastating impact of what critics label Florida’s ‘shoot first’ law, that are angry it can give killers immunity from prosecution.
In Florida, Roberts meets the family of Brandon Baker who was shot and killed just nine days after Martin. Police did not arrest his shooter, and his family is fighting for justice. “It just reminds me of the old western movies,” Bonnie Baker, Brandon’s grieving mother, tells
“I feel like we’re back in the wild, wild west where we should all strap on our belts and get our guns and our harnesses and just walk around. That’s the way it seems like it’s going,” she continued.
Critics believe Florida’s Stand Your Ground law lets people get away with murder with some even suggesting it is tantamount to a license to kill. In examining the impact of the controversial law, Dateline questions when self-defence can cross the line to murder.
Also on Dateline, Mark Davis reports from France on the growing popularity of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who took over the National Front from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen just over a year ago. Davis asks Le Pen about her success in the current election, and if putting an end to immigration would be a key demand if the National Front secures a presence in parliament.