The next Trayvon Martin could easily live in Michigan thanks to our Stand Your Ground law

Michigan’s “stand your ground” law resembles Florida’s more than any other state


Graphic by Chris Lozos

The tragic death of unarmed Trayvon Martin in Florida was a direct result of that state’s odious “Stand Your Ground” law. The fact that George Zimmerman was acquitted of his death is a direct result, not of the six female jurors ignoring the law, but, rather, of them enforcing it to the letter. Zimmerman’s murder of Martin was completely protected by this hideous law.

As Michigan Radio reports, Michigan has a similar law that is more like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law than any other state:

States that adopt “stand your ground” laws generally indicate a person has no duty to retreat if they feel unlawfully threatened by another individual, regardless of where the person is.

If you use deadly force against someone when you feel unlawfully threatened by them, you are protected under these state laws.

According to a think tank called the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit group promoting government transparency, Michigan’s “stand your ground” law says is almost identical to Florida’s law.

The Sunlight Foundation used an automated textual analysis to compare these laws in different states. The tool takes online texts and compares them for identical wording and phrasing.

Out of all the states who have original legislation for “stand your ground” laws online, Michigan was the most similar to Florida. […]

The Sunlight Foundation’s analysis found that after Florida passed its “stand your ground” law in 2005, a group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) “adopted its legislative language as one of the model bills it proposes to legislators across the country on behalf of its member associations, in this case the NRA.”

The law, enacted on July 26th, 2006 with immediate effect, is now Michigan Public Act 310.

ALEC’s influence in Michigan in putting this law on our books isn’t surprising. Eight of the bill’s cosponsors were ALEC members:

  • Edward Gaffney
  • Dave Hildenbrand (now a state Senator)
  • Rick Jones (has since left ALEC)
  • Bill Caul
  • Tonya Schuitmaker
  • Leon Drolet
  • David B. Robertson
  • David Farhat

The message sent to young black men by the acquittal of George Zimmerman is clear as a pane of glass: YOU are responsible for the reactions of the people around you. If they are frightened by your appearance, YOU are responsible. They have no responsibility to use good judgment or to avoid confrontations with you that could lead to your death. That responsibility is all on YOU.

These laws are harmful to our democracy and, more importantly, to our justice system. And, once again, the corporatists are there ensuring that our world is a less safe and accepting place for minorities.

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  • Alan Goldsmith

    So how many Democrats voted for the 2006 bill? And didn’t Governor Granholm sign it? So there is plenty of blood on the hands to go for anyone who is killed in Michigan in the days and years to come because of this law.

    • http://eclectablog.com Eclectablog

      32 House Dems voted for it, 17 against. All 58 House Republicans voted for it.

      7 Senate Dems voted for it, 9 against. 21 Senate Dems voted for it, one against.

      And I never said this was a partisan issue. However, none of the ALEC members listed is a Democrat and there are only a tiny handful of Michigan Democrats who have been ALEC members.

      • Alan Goldsmith

        True. ALEC is a creepy organization. But progressives need to call out Democrats who cave in on issues like this and not pretend it’s ok with our silence. Not saying you are doing that but it’s good to remember how this law came about and which Governor signed off as we move forward.

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  • georgemarkos

    Wrong. Trayvon Martin died because he attacked George Zimmerman and Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted on the basis of self-defense.

    • Walter

      You have absolutely no way of verifying that. Neither does the verdict support that. You are presuming a dead teenager guilty and that is shameful. The juror who spoke to Anderson Cooper said that they did not know who attacked whom first. They made their judgement based on Zimmerman’s fear at the time Martin was getting the best of him and the stand your ground law. All evidence point to Zimmerman being the initial aggressor and you being unreasonably biased.

      • georgemarkos

        First was not mention, however the evidence does support the attack. Mr. Zimmerman’s testimony the night ot the attack supports it and Ms. Jeantel in a follow up interview confirmed, in her opinion, TM landed the first blow.
        In fact, blame should also be laid on Ms. Jenteal for causing the pot smoking TM to be more paranoid. Her response to the “cracker” following him was, “he’s probably a rapist,” and then TM said the didn’t want to lead him to his apartment where GZ could harm his family.

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