TN legislative black caucus questions 'Stand Your Ground' law
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -
Some Tennessee lawmakers say they will fight to change the state's so called "Stand Your Ground" law in light of the controversial verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Florida.
The Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators says the law, similar to one in Florida, raises serious questions about safety.
Members of the black caucus released a statement Wednesday, calling the Zimmerman verdict "disappointing."
The statement read, in part:
"Over the next few months, we will work with our fellow representatives to review Tennessee's 'Stand Your Ground' law to determine whether portions of the law need to be repealed or replaced in order to ensure the safety of all Tennessee residents."
Rallies continue across the country, including one Tuesday night at Tennessee State University following the Zimmerman not-guilty verdict.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the issue this week.
"It's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," Holder said.
Zimmerman did not invoke "Stand Your Ground" in his case, but many feel it played a big role.
Like Florida, Tennessee and dozens of other states have laws that say in certain areas, you can use deadly force in self-defense.
John Harris leads the Tennessee Firearms Association, and says the law keeps a jury from asking "what if?"
"They don't have to worry about, 'What if he could have run away? What if he could have outrun the aggressor? What if he could have gotten in a car and locked the door?'" Harris said.
However, many activists are pushing to repeal the rules, including some Tennessee lawmakers with the black caucus, feeling it cuts gun owners too much slack.
"If the law is going to be changed, this is the moment for it to change, because of what's happened in the Zimmerman/Martin case. But if that moment passes, my guess is there won't be any change in the legislation. Even during this moment, it's not likely Tennessee will change it's law," said Vanderbilt University Law Professor Chris Slobogin.
As the law is being debated, the justice department is under pressure to bring criminal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, while other vigils and rallies are set across the country.
The black caucus also said in its statement the state should look at laws, rules and regulations concerning neighborhood watch programs, and how they are structured and operated.
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