The so-called Stand Your Ground self-defense laws in Florida and some other states amount to â€œa license to murderâ€ and an excuse for â€œvigilante justice,â€ New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg charged Wednesday.
â€œThe laws are not the kind of laws a civilized society should have and the [National Rifle Association] should be ashamed of themselves,â€ Bloomberg, a leading gun-control advocate, said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. â€œThis has nothing to do with gun-ownersâ€™ rights. This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.â€
â€œPlain and simple, this is just trying to give people a license to murder,â€ he added of the Stand Your Ground laws.
The laws are enacted in roughly two-dozen states but have been under intense scrutiny since the death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black Florida teen, whose shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, claimed self-defense.
Floridaâ€™s 2005 Stand Your Ground law protects shooters who claim self-defense in a wide range of places, including on the street or in a bar. According to the law, a person who believes their life is danger or could be seriously injured in any place they have a right to be â€œhas no duty to retreatâ€ and â€œhas the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.â€
But Bloomberg blasted the Stand Your Ground laws as â€œShoot Firstâ€ laws.
â€œThe fact is, all Americans already have a right to defend themselves with commensurate force,â€ he said, â€œbut these Shoot First laws have nothing to do with that or with the exercise of Second Amendment rights, instead they justify civilian gunplay and invite vigilante justice and retribution with disastrous results.
The self-defense laws have sown confusion in police departments about when to make arrests and for prosecutors to bring charges against a shooter, Bloomberg said. He also said they put undercover police officers in greater danger.
Bloomberg also addressed the $10,000 bounty the New Black Panther Party have a bounty for the capture of Martinâ€™s shooter, George Zimmerman â€” but he was pretty pissed to even hear the question.
â€œAnybody that puts a bounty on somebody elseâ€™s life is acting totally inappropriately. Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s illegal, it must be illegal,â€ he said in response to a reporter from the Daily Caller.
â€œWhat an outrage to even ask the question. What do you think?!â€ Bloomberg snapped. â€œI didnâ€™t even know about it until you just told me. â€¦ Now Iâ€™ve said my peace, okay. It is an outrage and itâ€™s against the law.â€
Speaking at the National Press Club, Bloomberg was headlining an event launching a national â€œSecond Chance on Shoot Firstâ€ campaign, which aims to block or repeal Stand Your Ground laws around the country in the wake of the Martin shooting. He was joined by Democratic Florida state Sen. Chris Smith, the NAACPâ€™s Hilary Shelton and Urban League President Mark Moriel.
Bloomberg said the effort would be a grassroots campaign that would include lawmaker outreach in all 50 states and designing model legislation.