In a speech to the NAACP, Attorney General Eric Holder repeated his pledge to investigate the death of Trayvon Martin in the aftermath of Zimmerman’s acquittal on murder and manslaughter charges by a Florida court.
He took aim at “stand your ground” laws that have been passed in 30 states. Holder insisted: “We must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent.”
Zimmerman’s lawyers didn’t invoke Florida’s “stand your ground” law in court, but the judge included it in her instructions to the jury that acquitted him.
President Obama tried to explain why many African-Americans are upset about Zimmerman’s acquittal. He said: “I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.
“On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms, even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?
“And for those who resist that idea, that we should think about something like these ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, I just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”