Trayvon Martin’s Mother Tells Senate Panel ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Don’t Work

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 29: Sybrina Fulton of Miami, Fla., mother of Trayvon Martin, testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Stand Your Ground' laws October 29, 2013 in Washington, DC. The committee heard testimony on ''Stand Your Ground' Laws: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force.'
National Journal
Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
Oct. 29, 2013, 9:24 a.m.

Sy­brina Fulton, the moth­er of slain teen­ager Trayvon Mar­tin, told a Sen­ate pan­el Tues­day that Flor­ida’s “Stand Your Ground” law “cer­tainly did not work in my case.”

“The per­son that shot and killed my son is walk­ing the streets today,” Fulton said. At one point, she choked back tears when talk­ing about how her son was fatally shot as he walked to the store for snacks. In her pre­pared testi­mony, she asked that Stand Your Ground laws be cla­ri­fied “so that they are ap­plied lo­gic­ally and most im­port­antly, con­sist­ently.”

The Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Sub­com­mit­tee on the Con­sti­tu­tion hear­ing con­vened by Chair­man Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had ori­gin­ally been slated for Septem­ber but was post­poned be­cause of the prox­im­ity in time to the Navy Yard shoot­ing.

Law­yers for George Zi­m­mer­man, the man ac­quit­ted in the death of Trayvon Mar­tin, didn’t cite Stand Your Ground laws in their de­fense, but many point to jury in­struc­tions in the case that state Zi­m­mer­man “had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force” if he be­lieved it was needed to pre­vent death or “great bod­ily harm.”

Tues­day’s hear­ing rep­res­en­ted a now rare mo­ment for gun laws to come in­to con­gres­sion­al fo­cus, even as no le­gis­la­tion is pending be­fore the House or Sen­ate. Durbin said that such laws dis­pro­por­tion­ately harm Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans.

But sub­com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Ted Cruz, R-Texas, bristled at that, say­ing black de­fend­ants com­monly use Stand Your Ground laws in their de­fense and charged that the death of Mar­tin was be­ing ex­ploited for polit­ic­al pur­poses.

Cruz told Fulton that he re­cog­nizes she is “simply mourn­ing the loss of your son, but there are oth­er play­ers who are seek­ing to do a great deal more.”

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