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Repeal "Stand your ground laws; Refuse to enact "Stand your ground" laws

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17 year old teenager and sweetheart TRAYVON MARTIN died in cold blood needlessly coming back from a 7-11 store after buying Skittles and an Ice tea, heading to the townhouse where he was staying with his father. His killer hasn't been arrested because of the "Stand your Ground" law which exists in Florida and 24 other states which prohibits the police from arresting anyone who claims that he/she was acting in self defense and therefore shifts the burden to the police (or other law-enforcement officials) to PROVE that a suspect did NOT act in self-defense before the suspect can be arrested ! In this case, the killer stalked the teenager and then claimed the child came up behind him and hit him in the nose so he ended up drawing his gun and killing him.  All evidence points to the contrary. Trayvon Martin had NO incidents of violence in his background.

"Court documents obtained by on Tuesday evening show that George Zimmerman, who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, went to court in 2005 and 2006 for accusations of domestic violence, tussling with a police officer and speeding.

The three incidents took place in Orange County, Fla.

  • In 2005, Zimmerman, then 20, was arrested and charged with “resisting officer with violence” and “battery of law enforcement officer,” both which are third-degree felonies. The charge was reduced to “resisting officer without violence” and then waived when he entered an alcohol education program. Contemporaneous accounts indicate he shoved an officer who was questioning a friend for alleged underage drinking at an Orange County bar.
  • In August 2005, Zimmerman’s ex-fiancee, Veronica Zuazo, filed a civil motion for a restraining order alleging domestic violence. Zimmerman counterfiled for a restraining order against Zuazo. The competing claims were resolved with both restraining orders being granted.
  • In December 2006, Zimmerman was charged with speeding. The case was dismissed when the officer failed to show up in court.The NRA Wants the Law Protecting Trayvon Martin's Killer in All 50 States"

He also called the police department over 200 times the year before reporting suspicious activities or other unwanted circumstances at this gated community.

"The National Rifle Association continues to press more states to adopt Florida-style "stand your ground" laws like the one that's made it difficult to prosecute George Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watch captain who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in late February. Zimmerman has claimed self-defense despite the fact that Martin was unarmed. Since "stand your ground" laws allow people who feel threatened to use deadly force—even if they have an opportunity, as Zimmerman did, to safely avoid a confrontation—Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged.

The proliferation of these laws is part of a deliberate lobbying campaign by the NRA. In 2005, at the NRA's urging, Florida became the first state to pass a "stand your ground" law. Before that, most states required you to retreat from a confrontation unless you were inside your own home. Now 25 states have these "stand your ground" laws, which critics call "shoot first" laws (Gawker's pseudonymous blogger "Mobuto Sese Seko" calls the laws "a great, legally roving murder bubble") because they authorize citizens to use deadly force even if the person who makes them feel threatened is, like Martin, unarmed. Here's a map of the current situation:

Prosecutors hate "stand your ground" laws because they make it much harder to successfully prosecute people who claim self-defense. In Florida, a defendant doesn't have to actually prove he acted in self-defense—the prosecution has to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that he didn't do so, a very high bar to clear. The upshot? In 2010, the Tampa Bay Times reported that "justifiable homicides"—i.e., killings that were deemed legitimate—have skyrocketed in Florida over several years since the "stand your ground" law went into effect:

That's how you end up with stories with headlines like "How to Get Away With Murder." But the NRA continues to forge ahead, pushing to expand the legislation to even more states.

On March 1, just days after Martin was killed, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action posted a blog post urging Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) to sign a bill bringing a Florida-style law to his state. Dayton vetoed the bill, noting that law enforcement officials had complained it would make it harder for them to do their jobs. Over at Media Matters, Matt Gertz notes several other examples of the NRA pushing these laws in recent weeks:

On March 16, the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) criticized the Judiciary Committee chairman of Iowa's state Senate for failing to hold hearings on "NRA-initiated HF 2215, the Stand Your Ground/Castle Doctrine Enhancement." According to NRA-ILA, the bill would "remove a person's 'duty to retreat' from an attacker, allowing law-abiding citizens to stand their ground and protect themselves or their family anywhere they are lawfully present." The group urged supporters to contact state senators and tell them to support the bill. NRA-ILA previously told supporters to contact Democratic members of the Iowa House after they "left the Capitol building in an attempt to block consideration of these pro-gun bills" on February 29.

On March 14, NRA-ILA urged Alaskan supporters to contact their state senators and tell them to support House Bill 80, which it termed "important self-defense legislation that would provide that a law-abiding person, who is justified in using deadly force in self-defense, has 'no duty-to-retreat' from an attack if the person is in any place that that person has a legal right to be." NRA-ILA also promoted the bill on March 5, March 8, and February 29.

The Massachusetts legislature's joint committee on the judiciary held a hearing on yet another similar law in February."

From ABC News:

"Clinton said "people have always had a right to have a handgun in their home -- to protect their homes. Then we've seen this breathtaking expansion of the concealed weapons laws in America moving from the late 90′s into this decade, far -- if you will -- to the extreme that America had ever been on these.

"And now the Stand Your Ground law," he continued. "I think the law is going to create real problems because anyone can -- anyone who doesn't have a criminal background, anyone not prohibited by the Brady Bill and caught by the checks -- can basically be a part of a neighborhood watch where they have a concealed weapon whether they had proper law enforcement training or not. And whether they've had any experience in conflict situations with people or not.

"So I hope this will lead to a reappraisal of the Stand Your Ground laws," President Clinton said, "and I hope that the truth will come out and that the tragedy of this young man's loss will not be in vain -- it's just terrible. Whatever the facts were -- all these people trying to jump on him and talking about some mistake he made in his life -- that's irrelevant because (of an) unarmed person who was killed on the street by a gun. And so I hope justice will be done in this case but I hope that the larger justice that would somehow redeem a portion of this terrible loss."

He said: "the American people should re-examine their position on that and ask: Is this really worth it? Are we really all that much safer taking the chance that this kind of thing could happen over and over and over again?"

The president made his comments in an exclusive interview with ABC News focused on his work with Clinton Global Initiative University. "

Mar 31, 2012 4:33pm
NRA Pushed for ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws
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Do a quick search for “Stand Your Ground” on the National Rifle Association’s website and the first video result features the story of a Florida man exonerated of murder charges in January 2012 under the State’s “Stand Your Ground” law. That video’s segment is titled “Hero of the Day.”

The NRA lobbied for “Stand Your Ground” in the past and has yet to comment on the controversy surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, a case in which Florida’s version of the law could play a pivotal role if it ever goes to trial.

The pro-gun group championed the passage of the original law in Florida back in 2004 and lobbied to pass similar legislation in other states, according to the Center for Public Integrity. In light of the recent controversy, the NRA has stalled its lobbying efforts in to pass the law in Alaska, according to Bloomberg News.

“Stand Your Ground” laws state that a person can use lethal force if that person feels at all threatened. Versions of the law have been passed in 25 states, but Florida’s is considered to be the most aggressive.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has convened a task force to examine the state’s law, and Congressional Democrats have expressed great concern with the statute.

No mainstream Republican groups or pro-gun groups have spoken out to defend the law since the fatal shooting of the unarmed teen by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, although concerns have been expressed on many conservative blogs that the controversy will lead to an attack on the rights of gun owners.

A Wall Street Journal analysis today found that killings classified as self-defense doubled from 2000 to 2010, although the Journal also points out that there haven’t been extensive studies done on the “Stand Your Ground” law so it is not clear whether those laws are responsible for the increase in self-defense killings.

"George Zimmerman has been accused of domestic violence, tussling with a police officer and for over-speeding.

In 2005, Zimmerman was arrested and charged with "resisting officer with violence" and "battery of law enforcement officer." Both these felonies are considered third-degree. Due to his desperate attempts, the charges were reduced to "resisting officer without violence" and then the only remaining charge was also completely waived off when he entered an alcohol education program.

In the same year (2005), Zimmerman's ex-fiance, Veronica Zuazo, filed a civil motion for a restraining order, alleging domestic violence. In retaliation, Zimmerman filed for a retraining order against Zuazo and both these claims were resolved with both restraining orders granted.

The next year, in 2006, Zimmerman was charged with speeding. However, that case was dismissed because the officer who charged him failed to show up at the court. "

—By Nick Baumann and Dave Gilson
| Wed Mar. 21, 2012 3:27 PM PDT




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