The so-called Stand Your Ground self-defense laws in Florida and some other states amount to “a license to murder” and an excuse for “vigilante justice,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg charged Wednesday.
“The laws are not the kind of laws a civilized society should have and the [National Rifle Association] should be ashamed of themselves,” Bloomberg, a leading gun-control advocate, said at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. “This has nothing to do with gun-owners’ rights. This has nothing to do with the Second Amendment.”
“Plain and simple, this is just trying to give people a license to murder,” 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.
Florida’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 “has no duty to retreat” and “has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.”
But Bloomberg blasted the Stand Your Ground laws as “Shoot First” laws.
“The fact is, all Americans already have a right to defend themselves with commensurate force,” he said, “but 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 Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman — but he was pretty pissed to even hear the question.
“Anybody that puts a bounty on somebody else’s life is acting totally inappropriately. I’m sure it’s illegal, it must be illegal,” he said in response to a reporter from the Daily Caller.
“What an outrage to even ask the question. What do you think?!” Bloomberg snapped. “I didn’t even know about it until you just told me. … Now I’ve said my peace, okay. It is an outrage and it’s against the law.”
Speaking at the National Press Club, Bloomberg was headlining an event launching a national “Second Chance on Shoot First” 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 NAACP’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.