Clarifying the limits of self-defence

 It has been almost impossible to ignore the recent headlines coming out of the US regarding the George Zimmerman case, but for those of you who somehow missed it, Zimmerman was the man acquitted of shooting unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin to death in what was determined to be an act of self-defence.

That case has sparked a nation-wide debate over the state of Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which allows homeowners to defend themselves even in cases where they might be able to safely avoid confrontation with criminal suspects.

The Cayman Islands, thankfully, has few instances involving incidents between homeowners and criminal suspects. However, in recent years, we have seen a couple such cases – including one where a burglary suspect was shot dead – that raise the question as to what right individual homeowners have to protect themselves and their families.

The local police have said that the law “provides for people to use reasonable force” to defend themselves, based on the circumstances which present themselves at the time. The question the reader might justifiably ask is, “How can I determine reasonable force in such cases?”.

The answer is: The reader cannot. It’s currently up to the police and a court of law to determine, on a case-by-case basis, an individual’s rights to self-protection.
We find this situation to be overly arbitrary and lacking. Local residents should be given additional legal guidance as to what force they can and cannot use for self-protection.