The Norman Transcript

Columns

July 31, 2013

It’s time to give ground

NORMAN — Can there be any question now that misbegotten “stand your ground” laws can provide a legal cover for murder?

Watching the distressing ABC News interview with one of the George Zimmerman jurors — the only non-white juror and the only one who began deliberations believing Zimmerman guilty of second-degree murder — it’s hard to come to any other conclusion.

“Some people have said George Zimmerman got away with murder,” ABC’s Robin Roberts began. “How do you respond to that?”

“George Zimmerman got away with murder,” replied the 36-year-old juror, identified only as Maddy. “But you can’t get away from God. At the end of the day … the law couldn’t prove it. We just have to believe in the Lord that if he has to pay, he will pay.”

As a nonbeliever, I take little comfort in her theory.

It’s reassuring, however, that President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and even Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain tried to launch a national conversation about “stand your ground” laws that could put pressure on 30 states that adopted them. If states won’t fix them, maybe juries will reclaim power.

Anytime the National Rifle Association is the main backer of legislation, as it has been on this issue, you can be sure the outcome is aimed at more gunplay, not less.

Of course, there are times when homicide is a justifiable response to threat of great bodily harm or death. But these laws encourage citizens to engineer aggressive, armed confrontations, when they should be encouraged to do all in their power to walk away. They enable the kind of tragedy that Zimmerman inflicted the night he decided that a teenager on his way home from a store looked suspicious and needed to be followed.

Maddy told ABC News that had she followed her heart, she would have held out for a guilty verdict.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Border obsession overlooks trade

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry made headlines recently by ordering 1,000 National Guard troops to the border. This bravado comes at a price: $12 million a month. Perry plans to send the bill the federal government. That’s one way to finance your ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Intercession badly needed in this world

    Yesterday was my feast day, or as the Italians call it, my “onomastico.” Since I live in the United States, it went completely unnoticed. If I lived in Italy, however, I would have been showered with cards and phone calls. That’s because ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Porch leap looked muchbigger as a kid

    It’s no secret that porch designs have changed over the years. Drive through new Norman developments and look at the porches. Most only have room for a potted plant and a spot to drop those UPS packages, no place for a porch swing or ...

    July 27, 2014

  • Keeping the war buried

    International outrage over the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane over Ukraine on July 17 does not appear to have affected either the actions of pro-Russia forces in that country or the material support Russia is offering the rebels. ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Gaza’s victims: civilians and peace

    After more than two weeks of fighting between Hamas and Israel, there is no question which side has the upper hand. Thursday’s strike on a U.N.-run school for Palestinian children increased the Palestinian death toll to more than 760. By ...

    July 26, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014