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Durbin, Cruz Clash Over Stand Your Ground Laws

Trayvon Martin's mother tells Judiciary Committee the laws hurt, but crime researcher testifies that blacks benefit most.

by
Rodrigo Sermeño

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October 29, 2013 - 11:29 pm
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WASHINGTON – Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, testified before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Tuesday about “stand your ground” self-defense laws, reviving the contentious debate in Washington over such legislation.

Fulton said she was there so that lawmakers could put a face on the tragedy that resulted in the loss of her son, who had just celebrated his 17th birthday three weeks before he was killed while walking home in Sanford, Fla.

“He was going to get a drink and candy. He was not looking for any type of trouble,” she said. “He was not the criminal that some people have tried to make him out to be. He was not the criminal that the person that shot and killed him thought that he was.”

She told Congress stand your ground laws do not work because they can be confusing and applied inconsistently.

“I just wanted to come here to let you know how important it is that we amend this stand your ground because it certainly did not work in my case,” Fulton said. “The person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today. This law does not work. We need to seriously take a look at this law.”

George Zimmerman, who was legally carrying a firearm, told police that he was confronted and punched by Martin, and shot him in self-defense, though he did not invoke the state’s stand your ground law in his defense. Martin’s parents and others argue that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin. Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in July.

Stand your ground laws let individuals use lethal force instead of retreating if they feel threatened with death or serious injury in public by another person. Florida was the first state to enact such laws in 2005. Subcommittee chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said 25 other states have introduced the law in some form since 2005.

The partisan divide on the issue was clear on Tuesday, with Democrats saying the laws have led to more gun violence, often targeting minorities, and Republicans arguing for the need of self-defense laws.

Republicans, led by the Texas duo of Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Louie Gohmert, said the matter should be left to the state legislatures that passed the laws.

Cruz said these laws are the responsibility of state governments. Gohmert, who testified at the hearing, said that most states “are doing quite well” with legislating in the area of criminal law without interference from the federal government.

“Let’s leave state criminal law to the consideration of state legislatures,” he said.

Gohmert noted that murder rates are higher in Chicago and Washington, D.C., where gun laws are more restrictive, than they are in states that have stand your ground laws.

“[The] idea of being able to stand one’s ground without first retreating has been combined as part of the law of self-defense in at least 22 states. It might also be noted that these 22 are not necessarily states in which runaway murder rates abound,” he said.

Harvard Law professor Ronald S. Sullivan said the law “tells Floridians that they can incorrectly profile young black children, kill them, and be protected by stand your ground laws.” He said these laws unfairly target minorities and encourage citizens to act as vigilantes.

John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, said the majority of people that invoke stand your ground laws in court have been of the same race as the victim.

He rebutted Sullivan’s claim by indicating that blacks benefit most from these laws.

“In Florida, blacks make up about 16 percent of the population, but they account for 31 percent of the state’s defendants invoking stand your ground laws,” he said.

He contended that black defendants who invoke the law as a defense are acquitted almost eight percentage points more often than whites.

“Stand your ground is tremendously misunderstood,” said Cato scholar Ilya Shapiro.

He said these laws protect law-abiding citizens, such as victims of domestic violence, and do not increase the likelihood of vigilantes.

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Top Rated Comments   
It doesn't matter if I racially profiled you. That doesn't give you the right to try and beat me to death.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
She knows full well what is going on. She (and the entire family) are "gett'n over", by profiting from the death of her son.

Shamefull...
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
So Durbin is against "stand[ing] your ground" but he and his friends are "not going to back away."
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (41)
All Comments   (41)
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my friend's step-sister makes $64/hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 9 months but last month her payment was $18916 just working on the computer for a few hours. read... WWW.Rush64.COM
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Come on, Mrs. Fulton, your late son was not going to the store to get candy and a drink. He bought the components to make a drug he had abused so frequently that he had suffered liver damage. I am sorry you lost your son, but he was not an innocent victim. He enjoyed fighting and violence.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Come on, Mrs. Fulton, you know better than what you stated. Your late son went to get "candy" and the "drink" in order to make an illegal drug. He had used this drug so many times that he had liver damage. He was a troubled youth with a bad attitude who enjoyed making people bleed. I'm sorry he's dead and sorry for your loss. But he had a lot of issues, and he was not a saint.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dick Durbin is one of the most vile, vicious and dangerous Senators in history, who will not hesitate to twist any truth to further his far left wing ideology. It is because of zombies like him that his home state's Chicago is the murder capital that it is. I feel sorry for Trayvon Martin's mother who doesn't even have the same last name as the young thug, who was suspended from school while living with her and had been sent to live with his Dad and his dad's girlfriend (Sigh!) when he decided to go clear across the subdivision to attack George Zimmerman instead of going straight home and met his sad and untimely end. R.I.P.

Has anyone noticed that Dick Durbin hasn't held any hearings to urge young black thugs to stop attacking each other and everyone else? These far left wing zealots always want to pass laws impeding law abiding citizens instead of the bad guys.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Zimmerman wasn't "standing his ground". He was lying on his back getting pummelled by a thug. "Stand your ground laws" have nothing to do with this case. Treyvon's worthless excuse for a mother had absolutely nothing to add at that hearing. On the other hand, why even care about this case? Zimmerman and Treyvon both are/were parasitic Democrats.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"parasitic Democrats"


Isn't that redundant?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
1. Most criminal law is state responsibility. This isn't supposed to be a federal area except, perhaps, in establishing self-defense rules for use in federal courts when an incident occurs on federal property. The senators who take the position that this is not federal business are correct.
2 Sybrina Fulton has no standing to testify about "Stand Your Ground" laws because she has never been affected by them. Nor was her son, who was exactly the criminal that he was rarely portrayed to be
3. Senator Durbin is vile on too many levels to count, and his standing in Illinois demeans the entire state since the voters there elected and re-elected him. I feel the same way about my senators.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Haven't you all figured it out yet? It was Martin who used "Stand Your Ground."
He was being followed, and felt threatened. He was told by the woman on his phone to run away. He choose not to retreat. He choose to stand his ground, and to do so very aggressively. He not only stood his ground, but he attacked the person by whom he felt threatened. Had the neighborhood watch captain not been able to defend himself, there is no doubt Martin would have been charged with assault, if not murder. And there is no doubt his defense would have been that he "stood his ground", as allowed by Florida Law.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most Honorable Richard Durbin, Senator from the Great State of New Yoak.
Please go to NYC and straighten out the problems there, and in DC and leave the rest of us the h3ll alone!!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Illinois, not NY.
You know: Chicago, where all the bad in the world comes from.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the Stand Your Ground laws are repealed, the person accosted by another who wanted to rob him will be the guilty party, because he didn't try to run away from the robber. This is a Get-of-Jail card for the robbers - they can't be found guilty of any crime. All they have to say is that the person robbed didn't try to run away and therefore is guilty.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
St. Tray was going for a blunt and the makin's of Purple Lean Drank.
Ms. Fulton is a quintessential example of poor parenting.

We need laws to protect society from mothers like her.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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