In the wake of the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin verdict, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has announced that his Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights will hold a hearing after the August recess to analyze “Stand Your Ground” laws. Such “shoot first, ask questions later” laws basically enable people to legally kill anyone in their path and then claim self-defense on the grounds that they felt “threatened” by the victim.
Said Sen. Durbin’s office in a statement:
Around 30 states currently have some form of “stand your ground” laws on the books. 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.
Meanwhile, in Zimmerman’s home state of Florida, Governor Rick Scott met with protesters who have been staging an “occupation” of the state Capitol building in Tallahassee. The group, which calls itself The Dream Defenders, was requesting that Scott hold a special session to repeal the state’s Stand Your Ground laws.
Scott released a statement afterwards, saying that he had spoken with Trayvon Martin’s mother, and was calling for a “day of prayer” on Sunday. He also explained that he was not giving in to the protesters’ demands.
“I told them that I agree with the Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which concurred with the law,” he said. “I also reminded them of their right to share their views with their state legislators and let them know their opinions on the law.”
At the meeting, Scott issued a challenge to the group.
“If you believe that Stand Your Ground should be repealed, tell them why and give them your experiences and why if you believe that it causes people actually to do the opposite of what was the intention, give me your examples,” he said.
The Dream Defenders’ executive director, Phillip Agnew, said his group’s occupation of the Capitol would continue until the governor agreed to call the special session.
“You know, we’re planning on meeting and we’re still holding hard to our demand. I think it’s important that people know when you draw a line in the sand, you stick with that line, he said. “Compromise is good, but we’ve made a demand. We want that special session.”
Scott called a press conference on Thursday, but spoke on the issue for exactly 51 seconds — answering just one question and frustrating local media, who had waited nearly an hour. Video is below, courtesy of WTSP-TV.
Photo of Dick Durbin: Center for American Progress Action Fund via Flickr.com