US attorney general questions gun law
Updated: 2013-07-17 08:02
WASHINGTON - US Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday questioned the wisdom of the so-called Stand Your Ground laws in over two dozens of states, saying they needed to be reconsidered.
Holder voiced his concern at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Orlando, Florida, as the law was associated with the killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin.
"Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," said Holder.
Martin, a 17-year-old high school student, was fatally shot while walking to the house of his father's fiancee in a gated community in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. George Zimmerman, then 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, called the police to report suspicious activity that night, and followed Martin. They then engaged in a fight, and Zimmerman ended up fatally shooting Martin.
Zimmerman was acquitted of second degree murder Saturday, and the ruling has sparked protests in many cities. Zimmerman's lawyers didn't specifically invoke Stand Your Ground law, but the association nevertheless stood, as the law stated that citizens can use lethal force -- rather than retreat -- if they believe their lives are threatened.
"These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if -- and the 'if' is important -- no safe retreat is available," said Holder.
About 30 states now have the Stand Your Ground law, and commentators have suggested those laws were passed with the backing of gun lobby.