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Citing Trayvon Martin, Durbin Plans Hearing on ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin on Friday announced he would hold a hearing on “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one that’s generated so much controversy in Florida following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The subsequent trial of George Zimmerman for second-degree murder in the case generated national attention and became a fixation of cable news. A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman last weekend of all charges, but that has far from stopped the attention on state laws regarding self-defense.

Durbin’s hearing will come when the Senate returns from the August recess. It will be before the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, of which he serves as chairman. Durbin’s office announced the hearing in a release just after noon Friday:

Around 30 states currently have some form of “stand your ground” laws on the books. September’s hearing will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and “stand your ground” laws mix, along with other issues.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, like Durbin a Democrat from Illinois, had asked House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., to call a similar hearing, but Goodlatte initially declined to comment.

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