Following the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial, Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin is seeking to re-examine the Stand Your Ground laws that were associated with the killing of Trayvon Martin.
A statement from Durbin’s office last Friday declared the Senator’s intention to hold hearings with officials from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Both organizations have been involved in the drafting of self-defense legislation in various states. Durbin also wants to see whether laws like these re-define the meaning of self-defense.
There are currently versions of Stand Your Ground in at least thirty states. The hearings are expected to begin in September.
Hours after Durbin came out for these hearings, President Barack Obama made a statement about the case, one that resembled a comment he made a year ago, “Trayvon could have been me.” The president also implied he would be interested in revising 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, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
Doug Truax, a businessman and the only declared Republican candidate for the 2014 US Senate race against Durbin, averred that something else was on the Senator’s agenda. Durbin, who was first elected to the Senate in 1996, is simply trying to avoid other issues:
“Dick Durbin never wants to talk about how his economic leadership has failed Illinois citizens. Instead he wants to focus on ideological crusades. . . . He’s creating another distraction with a Stand Your Ground hearing, which won’t help anyone in Illinois find a job. In case Mr. Durbin missed the news, Illinois has the second highest unemployment rate in America.”
Stand Your Ground laws became a controversial point before, during, and after the Zimmerman trial. However, as the trial progressed, Stand Your Ground became less of an issue because it was not a matter of Zimmerman being able to retreat once he was on the ground. Still, regardless of its applicability in the Zimmerman case, on the controversial Stand Your Ground laws, Dick Durbin plans on making them a larger issue.