Trayvon's Mom: Clarify 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

By Brett Snider, Esq. on October 29, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Trayvon Martin's mother told a Senate panel Tuesday that states must clarify their "Stand Your Ground" laws to prevent tragedies like the shooting that claimed her son's life.

"By being unclear in when and how it is applied, 'Stand Your Ground' in its current form is far too open to abuse," Sybrina Fulton said as part of her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to The Associated Press.

Fulton's call for reform echoed similar calls for action after the acquittal of Martin's killer.

National Response to 'Stand Your Ground'

The AP reports that despite Fulton's testimony, "no congressional action" was expected with regard to state "Stand Your Ground" laws. Fulton was just one of many witnesses; also testifying was Lucia Holman McBath, a mother whose 17-year-old son was killed in a separate "Stand Your Ground" shooting in Florida.

Attorney Gen. Eric Holder called for a nationwide reconsideration of these laws after George Zimmerman was acquitted of Martin's killing, claiming that the laws essentially "undermine public safety."

While those like Holder fear that "Stand Your Ground" laws may serve to fuel crime, groups like the National Rifle Association believe that they support a fundamental right to self-defense.

According to the AP, the Executive Director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action believes that "[s]elf-defense is not a concept, it's a fundamental human right." Many Americans tend to agree.

'Stand Your Ground' Reforms

Currently, more than a dozen states have adopted some form of legislative or judicial rule that allows individuals to "stand their ground" in using lethal force to defend themselves. The AP reports that, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, nine of those states' laws contain the phrase "stand his or her ground."

In Florida, where the Trayvon Martin case occurred, Tracy Martin -- Trayvon's father -- was joined by a state lawmaker and several prosecutors in calling for Florida's law to be repealed or at least "tweaked," reports The Miami Herald.

Part of this need comes from the particular character of Florida's laws, which seem to favor the use of force even when personal safety is not at stake. Advocates for change have made some headway in the Florida Senate, but as MSNBC reports, state legislators are fighting to keep the right not to retreat when using deadly force.

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