Senate To Hold Hearings on 'Stand Your Ground'

Sen. Dick Durbin said that a subcommittee hearing will occur after the August recess.

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Senate leaders announced Friday they would take a careful look at the nation's "Stand Your Ground" laws, which allow individuals to defend themselves through the use of deadly force if they feel threatened.

[READ: Trayvon Martin Supporters 'Stand Their Ground' in Florida]

The hearing comes after George Zimmerman was found not guilty after fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black male. A six-person jury ruled Zimmerman had acted in self defense.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Friday that a subcommittee hearing will be held after the August recess. The hearing will likely address whether the laws, which exist in some form in 29 states, are discriminatory.

A Tampa Bay Times investigation into the Florida law found 73 percent of whites who claimed self defense against blacks in a court were acquitted of the crime, while 59 percent of blacks were acquitted against whites when they claimed the same thing.

Conservative publication The Daily Caller argued that blacks invoke "Stand Your Ground" more often, and are actually more successful per capita than whites at winning their cases.

[DEBATE CLUB: Are 'Stand Your Ground' Laws a Good Idea?]

The Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights committees led by Durbin will also examine how instrumental lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council have been in advocating for "Stand Your Ground" laws.

In the Republican-controlled House, Democrats are also urging House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., to hold a hearing on the laws.

"When any child is gunned down and no one goes to jail, it is incumbent on lawmakers at the highest level of government to investigate whether justice has been done, whether the underlying law is just, and whether federal legislation could help avoid another tragic death like the death of Trayvon Martin," says Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. "I respectfully request that the House Judiciary Committee hold hearings as soon as possible to examine these questions further."

 

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