TALLAHASSEE -- Flanked by lawmakers, the mother of Trayvon Martin fought back tears Tuesday as she called for the repeal of the Stand Your Ground law, which she believes has been used as a shield by the man who shot her son.
“How many times are we going to bury our loved ones and not do something about it?” asked Sybrina Fulton at a press conference in Tallahassee. “We need to get rid of the law.”
A handful of Democratic lawmakers have filed bills to repeal or scale back the self-defense statute that allows people who fear for their lives to use deadly force. While Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday that reviewing gun laws was "the right thing to do," the proposals face an uphill battle in the Republican-led and gun-friendly Legislature.
Fulton's plea from the halls of Florida’s Capitol occurred at the same time that President Obama was pitching sweeping new restrictions on guns, including universal background checks for gun buyers, a new ban on assault weapons and a 10-round cap on ammunition magazines.
While states like New York and Colorado are moving to pass significant new gun restrictions, legislative leaders in Florida have not made gun control a priority this year. Some leaders in the Republican Party, which holds most of the decision-making power in the Legislature, have reaffirmed their support for the Second Amendment in the face of calls for gun control reform and none have filed bills on firearms.
The pitch to repeal the Stand Your Ground law is a longshot proposal from Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami and Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee. Both said that incidents like the death of Trayvon, an unarmed teenager shot to death in Sanford last year, is evidence that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law should be repealed.
“These tragedies renew the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make ordinary citizens feel empowered to shoot first and ask questions later,” said Williams. “We owe to not only Trayvon’s mother, who’s here with us today, but we owe it to future generations, we owe it to the citizens of the state of Florida, to ensure that these laws will not bring harm to their families or to our streets.”
The Florida Legislature passed the Stand Your Ground law in 2005, making Florida the first of two dozen states to pass similar legislation.