NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Zimmerman case put Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law into focus. Tennessee is one of nearly two dozen states with similar legislation. People in Nashville and cities across the country will march tomorrow, calling for a change in the law.
The march here in Tennessee will take place at the Federal Courthouse. Vigil participants are pushing for federal charges against Zimmerman, but they also want to put pressure on lawmakers to take another look at self defense laws.
Tennessee is one of 20 states with the Stand Your Ground law. Criminal Defense Attorney Grover Collins says you have the right to protect yourself in any place you legally have the right to be in, including your home, business and car.
Grover Collins said, “When you envoke your stand your ground or your self defense you believe that there is an imminent threat, a reasonable imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death and that is based on your perception and what is reasonable at that time.”
Self-defense can include using your fist, a knife or a gun. From 1981-1989, Tennessee law required you to try to get away from a threat before using self-defense. Some, like the author of “Carrying a Handgun for Self-Defense in Tennessee” John Harris, think the law works the way it is now.
John Harris III explained, ” As a practical matter most people have to make the decision whether or not to defend themselves in a very narrow span of time. And it was too much of a burden the legislature thought when they adopted the no retreat doctrine.”
Others want change, like National Action Network members, who organized the 100 City Prayer Vigil for Trayvon Martin.
Member Magaela Bethune said, “His race or his culture, but all those things should not place you at risk of having to die as a result of the application of the law especially or ever when you are unarmed and not breaking the law.”
John Smith, another local National Action Network member added, “Zimmerman did have a right to stand his ground, but Trayvon had a right to stand his ground too. But we only got one side of the story because one person is alive and one person is dead.”
The 100 City Prayer Vigil for Trayvon Martin will be Saturday outside the Federal Courthouse from Noon-2pm. It will also honor not only Martin, but young people murdered across the country, taking a stand to end all violence against youth.