Jacob Sullum takes on the Trayvon Martin case again, this time in light of (not-that-new) accountings of George Zimmerman's claims of how the shooting took place. Unsurprisingly, Sullum comes to a conclusion that drives me nuts:
In other words, something similar to the scenario outlined by Julian Sanchez, in which both Martin and Zimmerman reasonably feared for their lives, may actually have happened. If so, Zimmerman would still be responsible for needlessly setting these events into motion. But if his account of how the fight unfolded is true, his use of force could be justified under Florida law—not because of the right to "stand your ground" established in 2005 but because of the right to use deadly force when you reasonably believe you are "in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm" and have "exhausted every reasonable means to escape."
This has been said in different ways in different places, but certainly bears repeating when people keep searching for ways to blame an unarmed teenager for going and getting himself shot. You don't have the right -- or, at least shouldn't have the right -- to chase down a person on a dark street, start a confrontation, get your ass kicked and then shoot that person dead.
Look, I don't argue with the fact that the Consitution offers gun rights (even if I believe the second amendment should be no more absolute than the first amendment, which has plenty of limitations). But I do argue that people who carry guns and engage in reckless or bad behavior that directly leads to the injury or death of others should punished severely. When you shoot someone in the early evening on a self-delusional vigilate expedition, your expectation shouldn't be that you'll make it home in time to watch the evening news.
Anyway, Zimmerman can make his case. The problem here is that the Sanford police fucked this up beyond all belief. More people than Zimmerman need to be held accountable.
(The Sanchez piece Sullum mentions, though, is definitely worth reading.)
Edited to fix a couple of typos.