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Trayvon Martin's mother asks Senate to reform 'Stand Your Ground' laws

The mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin spoke before a Senate panel Wednesday.
Posted By Caroline Lee   |   Oct. 30, 2013 at 5:06 PM   |   Comments

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(UPI) -- Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, spoke in front of a Senate panel Wednesday to urge members to clarify "stand your ground" laws.

"It's unfortunate what has happened with Trayvon, and that's why I feel like it's so important for me to be here so that you all can at least put a face with what has happened with this tragedy," Fulton said in the Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Martin, 17, was shot in 2012 by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of the murder this summer. The case sparked a debate on "stand your ground" laws, even though Zimmerman's defense did not reference the law.

The hearing, which was held to examine the controversial laws, was supposed to be held last month, but was delayed after the shooting in Washington, D.C.'s Navy Yard.

Some Republicans on the committee said the laws do not need to be handled on a federal level, but rather left to the states. Such laws are currently on the books in more than 20 states.

"With only a few exceptions most states are doing quite well with legislating in the area of criminal law without our interference," said Rep. Louie Gohmert.

"Let's leave state criminal law to the consideration of the state legislatures that we in Congress would probably be well served to take advice from the states that are still solvent."

But Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, said the self-defense laws have caused "unnecessary tragedies" and should be reviewed.

"It is clearly time for 'stand your ground' laws to be carefully reviewed and reconsidered," Durbin said.

"Whatever the motivation behind them, it's clear these laws often go too far in encouraging confrontations that escalate into deadly violence. They're resulting in unnecessary tragedies and they are diminishing accountability under our justice system."

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