McCain calls for review of “Stand your ground” laws post-Trayvon-Martin death

Republican Senator John McCain has called for a review of “stand your ground” laws, in the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s death, and George Zimmerman’s acquittal.

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It should be noted that Zimmerman did not use “stand your ground” as a defense during the trial – he relied on a simple “self defense” defense.

(FYI – I’m in Chicago this week, and in addition to dealing with a sick family member, my laptop is now acting up (the fun never ceases). So bear with me over the next day or so – I’m probably going to be posting more videos than usual for a weekday, as it’s the easiest thing to get up, between reinstalling my laptop operating system.  Nonetheless, I do think it’s interesting that McCain is questioning Stand Your Ground law.  Thanks, JOHN)


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • CenterStage

    Internet radio show Center Stage, has done it again. On Friday night, the host came to the internet airwaves to engage in a critical discussion about the controversial “Stand Your Ground” Law and its relevance to the Trayvon Martin case and the Florida v. Zimmerman verdict. With a panel of three criminal attorneys all from Florida and a sociology professor, she was able to engage the audience in topics that ranged from reform or repeal, the application of the law, flaws in the law, the importance of jury selection, race and the law, and a deep discussion about the Zimmerman verdict. Insightful, informative, and an incredible discussion!!! If you missed it live, you have the chance to be there now.”

    http://www.blogtalkradio.com/centerstage/2013/07/27/stand-your-ground-laws-self-defense-or-license-to-kill

  • Rich

    I find it a bit disingenuous to say George Zimmeran did not use Stand Your Ground in his trial. True, his argument was based on self-defense, and did not invole the Florida Stand Your Ground statute, but self-defense in Florida itself has Stand Your Ground component, which removes the self-defender’s duty to retreat. I know Mark O’Mara argued that Zimmerman had no where to retreat, but that wasn’t actually decided by the jury. The fact finders didn’t need to consider this retreat part to decide the case.

  • Thom Allen

    I think “McInsane” predates McSenile” by at least 40 years.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Love the wicked! When it comes to McSenile, the sky’s the limit.

  • ArthurH

    Folks who support arming everyone for “defense” should consider unintended consequences. In Arizona last year, a member of a Minuteman group voluntarily patrolling the border for illegal immigrants and a member of a Second Amendment gun rights group got good and angry after his wife accused him of cheating on her and wouldn’t stop berating him. So he pulled his pistol on her. Unfortunately for him, she also had a pistol and was a better shot then him. Oh well, scratch one gun nut.

  • ArthurH

    I’m all for criticizing McCain when he is wrong, but this isn’t one of those times. We need to question the Stand Your Ground laws not because a black teen was shot by a white man (Zimmerman’s supporters point out he is half Hispanic while never bringing up that Obama is half Irish). They should be reviewed because they can allow anyone with a gun to profile anyone of any race or any gender and after rendering the other person dead for any reason to claim they were defending themselves and the other person won’t be around to offer counter-testimony. Any of you can be a victim under these laws. If we want both parties to be around to settle whatever dispute or misunderstanding occurred we need to take weapons of deadly intent out of the situation, which is what Stand Your Ground laws support. We need to stop turning this country into Wayne LaPierre’s wet dream of Dodge City in the 1970s.

  • Bill_Perdue

    His statement is as believable as Obama’s statement, that is to say, not at all.

  • Bill_Perdue

    “While race was an important issue in this case”. Racism is the only issue in this case and the one that they did hand-flips to avoid. .

  • Thom Allen

    When the residents of Arizona finally try to impeach McCain for insanity/senility, he wants to have a few statements like this on record to be able to try to refute that charge. Tomorrow he will begin kissing Mexicans, performing abortions and sponsoring peace talks with Iraq and Syria.

  • dave3137

    It should also be noted that the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law changed the standard jury instruction for ALL “self-defense” defenses.

    Prior to the passage of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law in 2006, the standard jury instruction in self-defense cases was:

    “The defendant [Name] cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to that force. The fact that the defendant [Name] was wrongfully attacked cannot justify his use of force likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force.”

    AFTER the passage of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, the jury instruction in ALL self-defense cases became what was actually read to the Zimmerman jury:

    “The danger facing George Zimmerman need not have been actual; however, to justify the use of deadly force, the appearance of danger must have been so real that a reasonably cautious and prudent person under the same circumstances would have believed that the danger could be avoided only through the use of that force. Based upon appearances, George Zimmerman must have actually believed that the danger was real…. George Zimmerman… had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself …”

  • nicho

    No he wasn’t. Just a brain fart on his part. He forgot the company line.

  • nicho

    While race was an important issue in this case, SYG laws are designed to allow the murder of anyone the killer dislikes. Zimmerman could just as well have killed you or me if we fit some profile he didn’t like — or if he just had an itchy trigger finger and wanted to kill anyone walking along the street. While blacks and other racial minorities will bear the main brunt of these laws, none of us should feel safe.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Yep, campaigning as the ‘Stand Your Murder’ politician.

  • AdmNaismith

    Agreed.

  • iamlegion

    They did, but he was told to back off by a 911 dispatcher, not an actual police officer, so it didn’t have any _legal_ weight. Morally however, he’s still responsible for Martin’s death, and there’s exactly no valid reason he shouldn’t have been convicted of manslaughter. The whole thing was a circus and a travesty.

  • Sphy

    Exactly. I think the defense was saving ‘stand your ground’ for appeals if needed. Even though it wasn’t mentioned by the team, it was still part of the Judge’s instructions.

  • AdmNaismith

    And that’s what get’s me in this whole thing- no one is saying that Martin had real reason to ‘stand his ground’- Martin was the one being followed and threatened.

    In all of this I have not heard anyone point out that Zimmerman was told BY THE POLICE to stay in the car and approach the suspect, and that Martin was legitimately ‘standing his ground’ from someone who followed, assaulted, then batteried him.

    I don’t know if the Prosecution brought up any of that, but they bloody well better have.

  • Bill_Perdue

    ‘Stand your ground’ laws are Jim Crow laws sanctioning lynching.

  • http://firefeeder.blogspot.com/ Stratplayer

    Although he didn’t raise “stand your ground” as a defense, it was nevertheless a significant factor because the law eliminates the common-law duty to retreat. Per the judge’s instructions, the jury did not have to consider whether Zimmerman could have avoided the confrontation altogether by staying put and not pursuing Trayvon. If Florida still recognized the duty to retreat, the outcome may well have been different.

  • Fireblazes

    They should change the name to: “If you have the gun you are not guilty.” Or, “If you don’t have a gun, you are the dangerous one.” Interesting how the gun culture has become so imbedded in our society, that the unarmed person is the threat.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Zimmerman didn’t — but the blabbermouth Zim-crushed juror who did those interviews made it clear the jury did consider the law during their deliberations, despite any instructions to do so.

    Moreover, when the police originally did not plan to arrest or charge Zimmerman, they didn’t just say it was self-defense, but also cited SYG.

    But yes, I do find it fascinating how the gun-fetishists have not argued at all that Martin should’ve been armed.

  • HolyMoly

    When I read this article, the first thing that came to my mind is, “What ulterior motive could there be for John McCain to propose such a thing?”

    I suppose your theory is technically possible, just as it is equally possible that McCain is simply advocating the right things for the right reasons in at least this one particular instance. (And I’m no apologist for the man; never have liked him, never will.) Maybe as he nears retirement, he’s trying to put a little positive (mavericky) spin on his legacy. Who knows?

    It doesn’t matter to me what his motivation might be; if the right thing is done — even for all the wrong reasons — the end result still is that the right thing has been done.

    Obama gave a few bones to the gay community with, for example, repealing DADT for what I believe to be political expedience. His “evolution” on the issue dovetailed nicely with his realization that needed every vote he could get in 2012. That being said, the right thing was still done, even if it was quite possibly for shady reasons.

    But yeah, I still have “what’s McCain’s angle?” bouncing around in my head, but we may never know. It might be that nothing ever comes of this — no review, no legislation, nothing. Time will tell.

  • cole3244

    another instance of mccain trying to act reasonable again but this too will pass, quickly.

  • nicho

    I don’t know why you’re talking trash about a gen-you-ine hero:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/george-zimmerman-emerged-hiding-truck-crash-rescue/story?id=19735432

    The rehabilitation of Zimmerman has begun. I wonder if he’s hired Hill and Knowlton to engineer his rehab. He’ll probably be running for Congress from Florida in two years, and knowing Florida, he’ll probably win.

  • iamlegion

    It should be noted that Zimmerman did not use “stand your ground” as a defense during the trial

    No, he didn’t. But Trayvon Martin could have, if he’d been alive afterwards. That’s the loophole McCain wants to close – the ability of a black kid to legally defend himself the same way “decent folk” would be allowed to.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    And he could have been white! They still would have shot him. He was walking away, looking behind him at his talker, which made him a burglar—–that’s southern reasoning at its finest.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    I think it’s important to note that while Stand your Ground was not part of his defense, a section of the SYG law was responsible for the case almost getting swept under the rug entirely as the police believed Zimmerman’s initial story of self-defense which, under SYG, precluded prosecution. I think this demonstrates how messed up SYG is.

  • nicho

    And the NRA will get to McCain in 5…4…3…

    And he will “clarify” his statement to conform to what the NRA tells him.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    LOL ha. Thank you. Obviously yesterday and today there won’t be as much original content – meaning, long analyses of things, as I may be reinstalling the operating system for a few hours. But every day I scan the home page to get a sense of what we’ve posted in the past day, and we really do try to find the “interesting” stuff that you might not have seen, and then do some analyses of the news you might haver already heard about, but hopefully we help you think through it a bit more. Anyway, glad you like it. I’m honestly liking it a lot myself. I really like being able to scroll down the home page and get a glimpse of the past 11 stories or so. Before it was really hard to scroll down the home page and quickly get a sense of what was there.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Agreed. Having said that, the NRA doesn’t even permit people to suggest that gun laws need to be reviewed, so I still felt it was notable.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    A review still isn’t an endorsement of repeal or change from Senator McCain. Giving lip service to the untold number of people who have been negatively impacted by these shoot first, ask questions later, Wild West mentality, laws is, quite literally, the least he could be doing on the issue.

    If he was really serious about “coming together”, he’d be sponsoring a bill to fix the Voting Rights Act.

  • AdmNaismith

    ‘It should be noted that Zimmerman did not use “stand your ground” as a
    defense during the trial – he relied on a simple “self defense” defense.’

    Zimmerman didn’t have to- it appears the jury was just a screwy as ZImmerman.

    According to Juror 37B, they would have all shot Martin for no reason.

  • emjayay

    I’d just like to take the opportunity to point out that if you look down the front page of this blog you will find a wonderful variety of stuff, some of it not always easily found or not found at all elsewhere. Thanks John and I take back all the mean stuff I may have once said about the new format.

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