7/19/2013

Federal government push on Stand Your Ground laws, Obama and Senate Democrats

The US Senate is moving forward with hearings to politicize Stand Your Ground laws.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Friday that the Senate Judiciary Committee would hold a hearing in September to examine "Stand Your Ground" laws in the wake of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case. 
The "stand your ground" self-defense laws in Florida and two dozen other states allow individuals to defend themselves without requiring them to attempt to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation. Although Zimmerman did not specifically employ a "stand your ground" law defense to combat second-degree murder charges in the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the trial has brought a renewed scrutiny to the statutes. 
"September’s hearing will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and 'stand your ground' laws mix, along with other issues," Durbin's office said in a statement. . . .
Obama again interjects himself into another legal process that is still underway (remember that his DOJ is considering bringing new charges against Zimmerman).
I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "Stand Your Ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  
On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see?  
And for those who -- who resist that idea, that we should think about something like these Stand Your Ground laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws. . . .
While I disagree with most of Obama's discussion, it is useful that even he recognizes the obvious: that "Stand Your Ground" laws weren't involved in the Zimmerman case.  He could have made the statement even stronger, but you take what you get.
And -- and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different. . . .
Obama should have waited to say something on this until after the DOJ investigation was completed, though this won't be a problem if DOJ isn't planning on bringing a case and one would think that should be the final decision.  But given that he talked about race, Obama would have helped a lot of healing if he had said that Zimmerman hadn't been motivated by race.  Unfortunately, as the quote above indicates, he is actually implying the opposite.

It will be interesting to see how large the crowds will be on Saturday at Al Sharpton's 100 city protest.

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