Reuters reports that Sanford, Florida — the town where George Zimmerman successfully and lawfully defended his life by shooting and killing a vicious attacker, Trayvon Martin — has passed new rules for how neighborhood watch volunteers may conduct themselves. In particular, it forbids them from being armed with a firearm, as well as from pursuing a suspicious person.

Florida city bans guns for neighborhood watch volunteers:

The Florida city where neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin is changing the rules on how civilian patrols can operate to help prevent a recurrence and revive the program’s reputation.

The new rules, to be released at a community meeting on November 5 in Sanford, Florida, will state explicitly that residents acting under the authority of neighborhood watch may not carry a firearm or pursue someone they deem suspicious.

The Reuters piece, published in the Chicago Tribune, notes that the “prosecution accused [Zimmerman] of racially profiling Martin, a high school student visiting from Miami, and then pursuing, confronting and shooting him.”

Nowhere in the article — seriously, nowhere — do they mention the vicious, life-threatening beating that Martin launched against Zimmerman without any just cause (even Martin’s girlfriend, who was on the phone with him at the moment of the attack, testified that it was Martin who initiated the physical conflict).

Local News 13 further reports:

Sanford’s new police chief, Cecil Smith, said the neighborhood watch program as it was operated while Zimmerman was part of it was dysfunctional and had no accountability.

“In this program, it is clearly stated that you will not pursue an individual,” Smith explained. “In this new program, it clearly indicates that you will not carry a firearm when performing your duties as a neighborhood watch captain or participant.”

I expect Sanford FL will encounter one, or both, of the following two realities in short order:

  • A substantial decline in the number of neighborhood watch volunteers, with a corresponding increase in serious crime.
  • A murdered neighborhood watch volunteer.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.


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