Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, holds up a card with a photo of her son as she speaks at the National Urban League's annual conference, Friday, July 26, 2013, in Philadelphia.
(CBS/AP) - The mother of an unarmed Florida teen who was killed last
year during a deadly confrontation with a neighborhood watch volunteer advocated for amending "stand your ground" self-defense laws before a U.S. Senate panel Tuesday.
laws, adopted in some form by at least 22 states, generally cancel a
person's duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat. But
Sybrina Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George
Zimmerman, told lawmakers today that Zimmerman's acquittal provided evidence that "stand your ground" laws can be confusing and applied inconsistently.
said her son was going to buy candy and a drink before the deadly
confrontation, "minding his own business and not looking for any type of
"We need to do something about this law when
your kids cannot feel safe in their own communities," Fulton said,
speaking at a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee's
subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights.
person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today,"
Fulton said. "This law does not work. We need to seriously take a look
at this law."
The Democratic-controlled Senate held the
hearing on "stand your ground" even though no congressional action is
expected on the state policies.
Dick Durbin called two panels of witnesses to the hearing room Tuesday
to address the issue. "These laws have emboldened those who carry guns
to initiate confrontations which have ended up killing unarmed
children," Durbin said.
Also testifying were Rep. Louie
Gohmert, a Texas Republican and a staunch supporter of "stand your
ground" laws, and Lucia Holman McBath, the mother of Jordan Russell
Davis, a 17-year old killed nearly a year ago when Michael David Dunn,
46, allegedly opened fire
on a car after complaining about loud music and saying he saw a gun.
Authorities never found a gun in the vehicle, the Florida Times-Union
"That man was empowered by the 'stand your
ground' statute," McBath said in prepared testimony. "I am here to tell
you there was no ground to stand. There was no threat. No one was trying
to invade his home, his vehicle, nor threatened him or his family."
Dunn's trial has been delayed until next year, according to the
According to the National Conference of State
Legislatures, 22 states have laws that state that "there is no duty to
retreat (from) an attacker in any place in which one is lawfully
present." The states are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana,
Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New
Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, according to the
At least nine of those state laws include
language stating one may "stand his or her ground": Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South
Carolina, according to the NCSL.
Gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association say "stand your ground" laws are about self-defense.
is not a concept, it's a fundamental human right," said Chris W. Cox,
executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action.