New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) launched a national grassroots campaign today aimed at putting an end to laws like the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law that left Trayvon Martin dead and George Zimmerman a free man. At a press conference in Washington, DC, Bloomberg, along with Florida lawmakers and civil rights leaders, called on Florida to repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws (which Bloomberg characterized as ‘Shoot First’ laws) and for other states to repeal or prevent similar Shoot First laws.
Mayor Bloomberg heavily criticized the National Rifle Association for their involvement in passing Shoot First laws, which often immunizes people who feel their life is being threatened if they shoot their perceived assailant:
Florida was the NRA’s first target, and it succeeded in pushing the bill through the legislature over the objections of leading police and law enforcement… In reality, the NRA’s leaders weren’t interested in public safety. They were interesting in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands and face no consequences for it. Let’s call that by its real name: Vigilantism.
Civil rights leaders from the NAACP, National Urban League, VoteVets, and ColorOfChange took up the banner of Mayor Bloomberg’s “Second Chance On Shoot First” push. At the press conference, they stressed the importance of Shoot First repeal and prevention, as well as the need to hold the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) accountable for its role in prioritizing and pushing such laws.
Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed, is one of twenty five states where Shoot First laws exist. Bloomberg exposed exactly how dangerous they can be, citing the steep jump in justifiable homicides — cases where a person who kills someone else is deemed to be legally justified in doing so. ThinkProgress generated a graph from those numbers:
A website was launched in conjunction with Bloomberg’s announcement today. Along with giving details on which state legislators supported a version of a Shoot First bill, it has a petition which read, “I strongly encourage all elected officials who originally supported these laws to consider the evidence and call for reform.”