Senate will review “Stand Your Ground” laws this fall

Sen. Dick Durbin speaking shortly after the new Assault Weapons Ban was proposed in January.

Sen. Dick Durbin speaking shortly after the new Assault Weapons Ban was proposed in January.

The Senate’s number two democrat, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, announced on Friday that he will hold a hearing this fall on Stand Your Ground self-defense laws, the USA Today reported.

According to the release by the senator’s office, the hearing will examine how Stand Your Ground laws came to fruition, meaning who wrote them, how they were written and why, and it will also examine how these laws are used.

More specifically, the hearing will review “the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix, along with other issues.”

Needless to say, this hearing was inspired by the recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in the self-defense shooting of  Trayvon Martin, even though his defense did not cite Stand Your Ground in the trial.

In addition, in the hearing the senate “will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws.”

Stand Your Ground laws were drafted with the help of ALEC, an unofficial conservative think tank most notable (or criticized) for drafting legislation that favors major corporate entities. The Stand Your Ground law was one of the few public policy matters ALEC dabbled in, and the group actually announced that it would stop working on public policy matters shortly after the Trayvon Martin shooting and Stand Your Ground laws received national scrutiny.

One could speculate that Durbin and the democrats are using Stand Your Ground laws to once again propose new gun control legislation since the Senate failed to pass new gun control laws, specifically the Manchin-Toomey bill, in April. Currently, there are about 30 states with some version of Stand Your Ground.

The hearing will be held before the Senate Judiciary Committee panel on civil rights, which Durbin chairs. As of right now details on who will testify and the exact date of the hearing will be released within the coming weeks, though the senator said he plans to hold it in September.

Including Durbin, the senators that make up the bipartisan committee are Sen. Al Franken, Sen. Christopher Coons, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Mazie Hirono, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Orrin Hatch.

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