NRA defenders stand their groundPublished 8:35am Monday, April 2, 2012 Updated 10:37am Monday, April 2, 2012
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is staying pretty much in the background while Florida’s gun laws are debated.
This comes about following the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in a Neighborhood Watch stand your ground controversy.
In 2005 former NRA president and lobbyist Marion Hammer successfully pushed “Stand Your Ground” through the Florida legislature.
The Florida legislation expanded the circumstances in which people can claim that use of deadly force was defensive.
Some analysts say this could undermine an effort to prosecute George Zimmerman, who says he acted in self defense in the shooting of Martin.
Cellular records show that Martin was on the phone with a 16-year-old girl moments before he was killed. She heard Martin ask, “Why are you following me?” and a voice saying, “What are you doing here?” followed by what sounded like an altercation and finally silence.
Currently, 25 states have some form of the stand-your-ground self-defense laws on the books. This year Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a similar bill to the one that’s in place in Florida.
“The fact is, Dayton ignored the bipartisan support for the bill and the wishes of a lot of law-abiding citizens in our state,” said NRA supporter David Carlson of Maple Grove in a letter to the editor in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “What law-abiding citizens want are the rights to bear arms and protect ourselves that are given to us in the Second Amendment and are taken away by criminals, the courts and leaders like Dayton.”
Other letter writers disagree with Carlson.
“Instead of caving into the NRA mouthpieces in the Legislature, Gov. Dayton wisely rejected the misguided bill,” said Jay Humsey of Woodbury.
“The vigilante who chased, shot and killed the Florida teenager, despite being told by an emergency dispatcher not to do so, wasn’t charged with a crime,” said Humsey. “That scenario could also have played out in Minnesota had our state’s chief executive not listened to the unanimous voice of law enforcement organizations and vetoed a similar law.”
Carlson maintains that the sponsors and supporters of the Minnesota bill did not intend it for the promotion of violence.
“They wanted the legislation to give citizens better protection of the law and to promote firearm education, awareness, training and good and lawful decision making in the defense of themselves and their families,” he said.
However, Richard Robbins of Mankato says the Minnesota bill would have created a situation where a shooter need only claim he or she was threatened to justify his or her actions.
“Any claims to the contrary lay dead on the ground,” said Robbins. “Thank you, again, Governor. In cases like this, you remind everyone how, in an election, every vote counts.”
Brian Amelang of Minneapolis asks some hard questions, including, “What kind of mortal threat did a slight 17-year-old with a bag of Skittles pose against an adult with a gun?”
The shooter is quoted on the police audio as saying “they always get away.”
“The shooter clearly identifies ‘they’ as black people,” said Amelang. “There are possible racial aspects of this case.”
Critics say the “stand your ground” law that has come under attack in the weeks since Trayvon Martin’s death is a National Rifle Association experiment gone awry. The jury is still out. Stay tuned.