Okay, here's the thing: I'm a big fan of rights to gun ownership, and concealed carry laws. I have myself qualified for a concealed carry permit in NC. Those laws should be "shall issue," and not up to the discretion of local authorities. Full stop. But..."stand your ground" laws, as they may be applied (NOTE: EDITED) in Florida, are nuts. If you are carrying a gun, you have it only to use as a last resort, and you are required, both morally and as a matter of law, to forebear from doing certain things you might otherwise do. If you are carrying a gun with CC permit, you cannot:
1. Drink alcohol. At all, not any.
2. Intentionally put yourself in a situation where you need to use the gun.
3. Get into a fight.
If for some reason you do get into a fight, you have to walk away. If walking away does not work, you have to run.
Only if you have made a serious reasonable effort to escape, or are prevented by circumstances from doing so (eg, other person has a deadly weapon) can you use your weapon, or for that matter any other kind of deadly force, in response. Someone pulls a knife on you, you don't have to run. Someone talks bad about your mama, walk away.
Now, a test case. Consider the following: "Citing the Florida [stand-your-ground] law, a judge dismissed a murder charge against Greyston Garcia, who had chased and stabbed to death a suspected burglar who had stolen his car radio. The judge ruled that a bag of radios swung by the suspect, Pedro Roteta, at Mr. Garcia amounted to a lethal threat." [WSJ story]
So, a quiz: Did Mr. Garcia satisfy the conditions for using a concealed weapon? (Assume the knife was large and concealed.) No. Not even close. You cannot use deadly force to defend property, unless there is also a threat to YOU. The robber (assume he was in fact *A* robber, who stole stuff, and *THE* robber, who stole in particular Mr. Garcia's stuff. He might not be, and it's not for Mr. Garcia to decide. But suppose). The robber ran away. You can run after him, but if you do you forfeit the right to use deadly force. Now, you might still use deadly force if your life was threatened (a bag of radios? really?). But if you do, you are guilty of manslaughter, just like anytime A kills B in a fight A started.
Now, the actual point. Re the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman thing. The question is, did Zimmerman try to walk away/run away? He did not. Mr. Zimmerman, in fact, followed Mr. Martin. That means Mr. Zimmerman cannot use his weapon. If he does, and kills Mr. Martin, then Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter, even if the only account of events we credit is that given by Mr. Zimmerman. ZIMMERMAN FOLLOWED MARTIN. (Plus, the police definitely told him not to, just in case Zimmerman was confused). If after that Zimmerman shot Martin, even if it was self-defense in the particular circumstances of that moment, Zimmerman is guilty of manslaughter. A kills B in a fight A started. A following B is starting a fight, seeking out a fight. It's not walking away.
"Stand your ground" laws are fine inside your home. Someone breaks into your home, empty the clip at them, no questions asked. But invoking "Stand your ground" when YOU chased THEM? That's just an excuse to commit murder and get away with it.
UPDATE: Jake Syma sends this link to a HuffPo piece by JM Granholm. Nice piece.
UPDATE II: It may be that the FLA SYG law will NOT apply in this case. That is certainly the view of the law's primary author, as here. If SYG is disallowed as a defense here, then I stand corrected and SYG is okay as written. If not, I've got beef. And I still find the application in the Garcia case above to be incomprehensible.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis and Jake Syma for links)