'Shoot First' Gun Laws Under Attack in Bloomberg's New Campaign

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a national campaign that aims to repeal or reform the laws that eliminated a person's duty to retreat when threatened with serious bodily harm or death. These laws have passed in 25 states.
by | April 12, 2012
 

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a national campaign against gun laws that he said "justify civilian gun play."

Bloomberg was joined by the leaders from the NAACP, National Urban League and other groups Wednesday at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., as he announced "Second Chance on Shoot First."

The campaign aims to repeal or reform the laws that eliminated a person's duty to retreat when threatened with serious bodily harm or death. These laws have passed in 25 states.

Bloomberg said these laws undermine the integrity of the justice system, threaten public safety and make it more difficult to prosecute shooters.

The grassroots campaign will contact state legislators who have passed what he terms "shoot first" laws, produce education material for the public and create model legislation.

"The tragic death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., touched a nerve all across this country," Bloomberg said. "I believe we all have a responsibility to investigate the meaning of this terrible event for our nation and then to take action."

Bloomberg said neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who shot Martin, should have never had a gun with his history of violence. He said New York and other states would not have allowed him to carry a gun.

With the recent announcement that Zimmerman will be charged in the shooting, Bloomberg simply said, "Let justice be served."

"I'm told the prosecutor is a woman with a lot of experience and I'm sure she'll look at this and decide what actions are appropriate, but I'll leave it to her," he said.

Bloomberg said his campaign to change the laws is not undermined by the recent charges brought against Zimmerman.

"I'm trying to protect people across this country," he said. "I go to states with Stand Your Ground laws. My daughters go to states with Stand Your Ground laws. This is a part of America and I think these kinds of laws that lead to vigilantism are just not appropriate."

Florida's Stand Your Ground law is central to the Martin shooting since Zimmerman has claimed self-defense.

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Martin's parents, said they have no objection to the amended statutes being named the Trayvon Martin Law.

"We have to have this Trayvon Martin Law become the law of the land," Crump said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. "That says if you are the aggressor, if you are engaged in confrontation, you can't then say 'oh, I killed the person but I'm going to stand my ground.' That can't be part of the law. The police have got to be able to arrest people who kill unarmed people. We're not the wild, wild West. We can't let that message go forth to the world. I think that's a big part of the legacy."

Martin's father said naming the amended law after his son would be a big step in the direction of justice for "millions of Trayvons."

"It's sad that we have to try to get an amended law in our son's name just to get simple justice," Martin said in an interview with the AP. "We feel we shouldn't have had to go through these great lengths to get justice for our family. A lot of people applaud us for what we're doing, but we feel the things that we're doing is what any loving and caring parent would do for their child."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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