AG strongly criticizes stand-your-ground laws - FOX 32 News Chicago

AG strongly criticizes stand-your-ground laws

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ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -

Civil rights leaders are calling on people in Florida and across America to review stand your ground laws.  The U.S. Department of Justice continues to investigate whether George Zimmerman violated Trayvon Martin's civil rights.

Florida's stand your ground law basically says if you are in a public place not committing a crime and someone attacks you, you have the right to fight back instead of running away.

Reverend Al Sharpton will come to Orlando Wednesday to lead the charge against our state's stand your ground law.  Sharpton is calling for prayer vigils in one hundred cities across America this Saturday.

Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday strongly criticized stand-your-ground laws that allow a person who believes he is in danger to use deadly force in self-defense.

Referring to the case of Trayvon Martin shooting, he told the NAACP national convention in Orlando, "It's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods."
 
The attorney general said the country must take a hard look at laws that contribute to "more violence than they prevent."
 
Holder said such laws "try to fix something that was never broken."

Fla. State Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, helped write Florida's stand your ground law.  He says the U.S. Supreme Court adopted stand your ground in 1921 and the majority of our fifty states have done the same.

"There are many cases that are self-defense cases that don't have anything to do with stand your ground.  They're just a standard self-defense case and that's what the Zimmerman case was," said Sen. Simmons.

Gov. Rick Scott ordered a task force to review Florida's stand your ground law after Martin's death.  A panel of lawmakers, prosecutors, judges and citizens worked on the review for almost one year.  Fla. State Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, explains what the task force concluded.  

"If the only alternative to an altercation is a duty to retreat, that gives more rights to the assailant than to the victim," said Rep. Brodeur.  "So we determined that it was better to leave it in there because that equalizes the rights between a potential assailant and a potential victim."

Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, has said all along this was never a stand your ground case, because Zimmerman was pinned on the ground and had no opportunity to retreat.  O'Mara won the argument in court that it was a simple case of self-defense.

 

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