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A Deadly Combination: Stand Your Ground, Concealed Carry and Vigilantism

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 7/19/13

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/32051524@N08/7962586726/: Lady Justice
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Whether we agree or disagree with the acquittal of George Zimmerman for murder in the Trayvon Martin case what's done is done. But this trial and the Florida "stand your ground" law that was a major factor in the jury's decision has now established a very dangerous precedent in America's already highly faulted judicial system.


This precedent has now very likely opened the door to the era of vigilantism in this country. It was only a matter of time until someone like George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, fully supported by this very questionable and debatable law, took the law into his own hands. The only surprising part of this tragedy is that it took so long.

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There certainly is nothing wrong with watch groups protecting their neighborhoods; that's their prerogative and that's fine. But what recently happened when Zimmerman confronted Trayvon Martin is a stunning example of the law allowing a trigger-happy vigilante type to carry out his own special method of law enforcement.


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That in no way can be good for this society. So the big question that arises is: what happens now, where do we in America go from here? Here is the lesson America must learn; this case illustrates what happens when the serious root causes of a problems are not addressed, not solved and are allowed to fester. What is absolutely astounding is how this movement to allow more and more American citizens to become pseudo-law enforcement officers grew so rapidly.


All 50 states in America now have concealed carry laws and more than 30 have passed some form of stand your ground legislation. This society is becoming an armed camp right before our eyes. Societal violence is a national problem that should be addressed by the federal and state governments in order to bring it under control. But that is simply not being done and so the individual states have taken upon themselves to enact these egregious laws.


A further question is: why aren't these governments concentrating on identifying and dealing with the specific factors that are fueling this nation's violence? Why haven't they found the ways to solve the rampant unemployment that is plaguing this nation? Do they understand why 50 million people are on food stamps and an equal number living below the poverty line? Don't they understand that people who desperately need work often resort to violence out of anger and frustration?


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Don't they know that the massive disparity of wealth and income in America in which the rich want for nothing and the poor have nothing is a major contributing factor to the spread of violence? Have they identified and effectively dealt with the reasons that are causing the proliferation of illegal drugs that cause so much violence? We hear so often that multiple murders of innocent Americans are committed by angry individuals with mental problems; but, instead of addressing this problem the federal and state governments have been reducing funding and closing mental treatment facilities.


No, the leaders of our government certainly have not done what they should have to examine the root causes of violence in America and have only tried to minimize it by enacting laws that allow citizens to carry weapons and initiate confrontations that can so easily lead to tragic, unnecessary deaths; just like what happened with George Zimmerman. Dealing with societal violence by opening the door to vigilantism is not the answer, it will only exacerbate the situation.


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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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