A 17-year-old man walked down the street. He wore a hooded sweatshirt and carried only a bag of Skittles, iced tea, and a cell phone. He was unarmed.

A 28-year-old man bearing a handgun called 911 and began to follow this "suspicious" young man against the advice of the emergency operator.

The unarmed teen, whose name is Trayvon Martin, was soon shot and killed by Robert Zimmerman in what police officers determined to be an act of self-defense, even though the 911 operator had specifically told Zimmerman not to follow Trayvon.

Because this occurred in Florida, Zimmerman had the right to "stand his ground," and he was legally entitled to discharge his weapon if his safety was threatened, even if he could have safely left the scene.

The older man has not been prosecuted, and, until the shooting began to receive national media attention, no substantive investigation into the incident took place.

This story has received national attention after being covered by multiple media outlets. I have tried to portray the above events as neutrally and as factually as possible, given what I know about the case. Considering the general account above, it seems quite clear that the nature of the "threat" against the shooter is not immedatiely evident. Surely the facts merited some substantive investigation.

Of course, missing from the above account is the fact that the seventeen-year-old was African-American, while the man pursuing him was half-white and half-Latino. It is certainly a possibility that race played a role in the crime, and it is the duty of the American justice system to fully investigate this possibility.

However, one man's racism, while terrible, is not what I find so deeply troubling about the death of Trayvon Martin.

No, what is so horrible about this situation is how race so clearly played a factor in the manner with which the justice system handled the crime. Even if the young man had been verbally abusing his pursuer, even if he was behaving in a way that could have been construed as a threat—is there any doubt that the shooting of an unarmed minor is worth investigating immediately after the incident? The fact is that many shootings of minors, particularly African-American boys, go completely uninvestigated—google "Brandon Martell Moore" for another tragic example.

In a hypothetical scenario, if a black man shoots "suspicious" young white student in an act of self-defense, is there any doubt that a full investigation would take place?

The lack of anything resembling a thorough investigation following this shooting is nothing more than a denial of Mr. Martin's right to equal protection under the law, and a sign of continuing racism in the police force.

This is the ugly face of modern racism, and it is something that must be fixed if we are to relegate racism to the past. Geraldo Rivera, the mustached reporter for Fox News, idiotically (and not facetiously) suggested, that being black and wearing a hoodie itself constitute a threat that should evoke a legal armed response. I hope that this notion is as absurd to you as it is to me.

No matter what one's beliefs are concerning the protection of gun rights under the Second Amendment, I hope it is clear that any unprovoked gun violence against another unarmed citizen must be strictly illegal in every case.

It should be a federal crime to discharge a firearm aimed at an unarmed civilian in any circumstance where the shooter had the ability to safely leave the scene. (An exemption must, of course, be made if the unarmed citizen is clearly committing a violent crime.)

The "stand your ground" law is nothing more than an invitation to vigilantism. Whether or not this was the case in Martin's shooting, this reckless law nonetheless enables gun attacks that are directly or indirectly motivated by race.

Hopefully Trayvon Martin's tragic death will help advance American civil rights and protect all of us from the horrors of gun violence. Every child in America has the right to grow up and live without fearing death by an armed vigilante.

And when any life is ended by gun violence, our justice system has an obligation to investigate that shooting thoroughly.

This is what the law in Florida has enabled: the police do not need to investigate any further than the assertion that the shooter felt threatened, even if that "threat" was an unarmed minor. Even if the shooter was an armed adult, following the child against the advice of the police. Even if that threat may have been directly or indirectly motivated by racism.

This "stand your ground" law threatens the basic civil liberties of Americans, and it must be revoked. The Second Amendment simply does not give an individual the right to kill based off of his or her prejudiced determinations of threats.

How many young Trayvon Martins have to die before we realize that a law that overtly enables vigilante justice will not make America safer?

Sean McElroy is a member of the Class of 2012.