A Senate panel will review several Stand Your Ground self-defense laws in place around the country this fall. The review was announced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Durbin is the assistant Democratic leader and will conduct the hearing on self-defense laws before the Senate Judiciary Committee panel on civil rights, which he chairs.
Information about who will testify and when the hearing will take place should be announced in the coming weeks, reports USA Today. The hearing will likely happen in September, after the Senate returns from a recess.
The announcement of a Senate hearing on Stand Your Ground laws came hours before President Barack Obama spoke about unarmed Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman, a 29-year-old neighborhood watch captain. The case sparked debate around the country.
A jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the teen’s death. About 30 states currently have Stand Your Ground laws, including Florida.
The Washington Post notes that Durbin released a statement about the Stand Your Ground laws review, saying that the subcommittee on Constitution, civil rights, and human rights will examine several factors surrounding the laws. Those include the influence the gun lobby and the American Legislative Exchange Council have on creating and promoting the laws.
Also under review will be how the laws have changed the definition of self-defense, whether or not they have encouraged unneeded shooting confrontations, and the civil rights implications of the law when racial profiling and the Stand Your Ground laws mix.
The jury that acquitted George Zimmerman was instructed to consider Florida’s Stand Your Ground law during its deliberations last weekend. Because of this, it is likely the case will come up during September’s Senate hearing on the laws. President Obama recently encouraged a review of the laws, saying:
“I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if… they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case.”
Do you think the Senate is right to hold a hearing on Stand Your Ground laws?