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7/26/2013 2:02:00 PM
Lawmakers willing to revisit AZ 'stand your ground' law
McCain says law should be reviewed
PHOENIX -- The state's senior senator said Sunday that Arizona's "stand your ground' laws need to be reviewed in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting.

John McCain, appearing on CNN's "State of the Union,' said he thinks the Florida teen, shot to death by George Zimmerman, got justice.

"I trust the judgment of a jury, of his peers, of individuals,' the senator said. "No one that I know has said that this case was flawed, that it was corrupt, that there was anything wrong with the system of justice.'

But McCain said he can see where the law "may be something that needs to be reviewed by the Florida Legislature or any other legislature that has passed such legislation.' And, pressed by host Candy Crowley, he specifically said that Arizona's version of the law, adopted in 2010, is worth looking at again.

"And I'm confident that the members of the Arizona Legislature will,' he said. "Because it is very controversial legislation.'

McCain, however, did not specifically call for repealing the statute. And messages to his press aides seeking clarification were not returned.

But in calling for a new debate on the law, McCain put himself at odds with Gov. Jan Brewer. She not only signed the original law but just last week, in a response to a query by Capitol Media Services, reaffirmed her support of it.

"I think it's a constitutional right,' Brewer said.

Arizona has had laws on its books for years about when someone is justified in using deadly physical force. Those laws permit such use when "immediately necessary to protect himself against the other's use of unlawful deadly physical force.'

State lawmakers added the "castle doctrine' in 2006 which says there is no duty to retreat if someone enters your dwelling.

The 2010 amendment expanded that to the street, saying an individual "has no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force' as long as he or she is "in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.'

McCain's comments put him somewhat in line with President Obama.

Last week the president said it would be "useful' to examine such laws "to see if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kind of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.'

That led to the president being criticized by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said Obama uses "every opportunity that he can to go after our Second Amendment right to bear arms.

"This president and this administration has a consistent disregard for the Bill of Rights,' Cruz said.

McCain, asked by Crowley about Cruz' statements, responded, "I just don't draw that conclusion.'

The question of the wisdom of the law first arose last year following the shooting. But former state Sen. Chuck Gray, R-Mesa, who sponsored the legislation, said at that time he had no second thoughts.

"We never ask our police officers to retreat if they are threatened,' Gray explained. "If they are delegated that authority, that means that same authority resides or maintains with the citizens.'

As part of the same CNN interview, McCain said there needs to be "more conversation in America.' And the senator said he is not excluding himself.

"I, as an elected official, I need to talk more to my Hispanic organizations in my state,' he said.

"I need to talk to more African-American organizations,' McCain continued. "I need Americans to talk to their friends and neighbors, not just those in their block or their circle of friends.'

--Howard Fischer

Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Some Arizona lawmakers are willing to take another look at the state's "stand your ground' law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting and trial in Florida but are deeply divided whether the statute needs revision.

Legislators from both parties told Capitol Media Services on Monday there is nothing wrong with a review of the legislation, adopted in 2010, to see if changes are necessary. Those comments come a day after Republican John McCain, the state's senior senator, said lawmakers in his home state and elsewhere should revisit their laws.

At this point, no one from either party is calling for outright repeal, at least in part because there is no evidence that anyone accused of killing someone has used the statute as a defense. But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said he fears it can be abused.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, said he's willing to take a second look. He's not convinced, however, any changes are necessary.

"The 'stand your ground' laws reflect the idea that if you are in a place legally, you have a right to be there, you have a right to defend yourself,' Farnsworth said.

"That's a God-given right,' he continued. "And there's nothing controversial about that.'

Arizona law has long allowed the use of deadly physical force in self-defense. But there was also a presumption that such force has to be immediately necessary, leading to questions of whether prosecutors might consider whether to bring charges against someone who chose not to retreat from a dangerous situation.

In 2006 state lawmakers said there is no duty to retreat from one's own home. Four years later that right to stand one's ground and use deadly physical force was extended to any situation where the person has a legal right to be.

House Majority Leader David Gowan, R-Sierra Vista, said that makes sense.

"Why do I have to retreat because someone is aggressing (cq) to me?' he asked.

House Speaker Andy Tobin, R-Paulden, said he's willing to consider a second look. But Tobin said the concerns about the statute may be misplaced.

While t he 2012 shooting of Martin by George Zimmerman brought attention on Florida's version of the law, Zimmerman never raised that as a defense. Instead he argued -- and the jury accepted -- he was acting in self defense because Martin was attacking him.

That was also pointed out by Senate Majority Leader John McComish, R-Phoenix.

"That issue only came up peripherally in the press and not in the court,' he said. McComish said while it "never hurts' to review any law, "I don't sense there's a will to look at that seriously and change the law.'

Gallardo conceded "stand your ground' was not Zimmerman's defense. But he said all the publicity about the Florida law and its Arizona version could lead to trouble.

"My biggest fear is you have folks out there that know what 'stand your ground' is,' he said.

"They're going to try to utilize that,' Gallardo said. "Where normally they may have turned around and walked away they're going to say, 'No, I'm going to turn around and I'm going to stand my ground and I'm going to make sure that no one's going to push me around.'

Gowan, however, sees the same situation in a different light.

"Why should we always cower down to all these bullies?' he asked. Gowan said the law simply clarifies that people have a right to defend themselves.

Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor, D-Phoenix, said it's not that simple. She said these laws "promote a society of vigilantes running around.'

She said testimony showed that a 911 operator told Zimmerman not to get out of his car to pursue Martin. Zimmerman told the dispatcher "they always get away.'

Landrum Taylor, who is African-American like Martin, said if Arizona keeps the law there should be added protections against what she said in this case was clear racial profiling.

She acknowledged voting for the 2010 legislation that included the "stand your ground' provision. But Landrum Taylor said the measure appears to have gone beyond the original intent of ensuring that people have the right to protect themselves.

Taylor Waste

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
Article comment by: David in Cottonwood

@ "Who's kid is next"
I see, you want to spread more hyperbole. No one's kid is next so long as no kid sucker punches an armed citizen then bounces their head off the concrete repeatedly. You see how that works? And you don't have to defend yourself against someone running away, but it's not a bad idea to protect yourself against someone who pursued you as you walk back toward your car, and after taking you down was then sitting on your chest and pummeling you. I've read the transcript thank you it represents just a portion of what happened that night not the whole picture. Perhaps you would do well to read the police interviews, officer testimony, and evidence findings to round out your knowledge of the case.
@ '??'
You're right, Stand your Ground does not mean 'follow and murder', and according to all the evidence 'follow and murder' is not what happened that night. Thank you for playing.

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

For a change, I agree with Senator McCain. It never hurts to make sure laws can't be abused or misused. Also to make sure they actually address the problem they were meant to solve and can actually be enforced within the limits of the Constitution.

As I recall, however, both the "castle doctrine" and "stand your ground" amendments to the basic law governing self-defense were prompted by wrongful-injury lawsuits filed by convicted felons injured in the course of committing a felony. If so, while they're reviewing, maybe our legislators can check on whether they put an end to juries' awarding damages to wannabe burglars and rapists and such.

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

So when's the last time you went to DC,Oakland,Phoenix,Detroit,Little Havana,
Overtown,New York, not packin?
I always say where's the Reveran Al when TV shows like the After the next 48 where the
gentleman arrested are all black all the time.
Wake up Al.Guess theres not enough plublicity
or money to get coverage on that horse.
I don't see Jesse ridin that Pony to the bank.
This isn't Grandpa's Pontiac anymore.
Ya git hit you must aquit.Just make sure their DEAD.You don't want to get sued for wingin em.

Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: Who's kid is next?

Travyon Martin was running away was said in Zimmermans own words.

Wait in the car for police you have already called.

Why do you have to defend yourself against someone who is running away?

see 911 transcript here:


Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: ? ?

"Stand your ground" does not mean 'follow and murder.'

Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: John Stuczynski

First of all, the Stand Your Ground" defense never entered in to the defense of Mr. Zimmerman. Stand Your Ground is a self defense law. Why review it? We are, regardless of what you call it, allowed to defend ourselves if there is a percieved danger to ourselves or our families or anyone. Leave things alone. First, they want to eliminate Stand Your Ground, then, all forms of self defense then confiscate your guns. Bull!!!!!!

Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: David Nielsen

LOL, profiling, profiling criminal behaviour isnt racist, but the representative is actually upset that it is being blatantly pointed out that the thuggsta culture that dominates that 17% of the population is indeed core to that 17% committing over 57% of all violent crimes committed each year, and yet said so called leaders of their culture, refuse to do anything about it, how sad and pathetic

Posted: Friday, July 26, 2013
Article comment by: David in Cottonwood

Defending yourself in a situation where you have the legal and justifiable right to expect to not be attacked is not vigilantism. Claiming that laws supporting your personal security somehow promotes illegal behavior is both irresponsible, and the worst sort of fear provoking hyperbole.

It seems someone needs to explain the definition of vigilantism to the Honorable Mrs. Taylor.

She also can't seem to get her facts straight as concerns the testimony in Zimmerman's trial. Zimmerman was NOT told to "not get out of his car" by the 911 operator. The 911 operator asked Zimmerman if he was following Trayvon, and when he replied that he was the operator said "we donít need you to do that". "We don't need you to do that" is not a directive or an instruction, and can reasonably be interpreted as a simple observation, most likely an expression of concern for Zimmerman's welfare. It has also been established that Zimmerman was already out of his car when this conversation took place, kinda hard to 'stay in the car' when you're not in it. And again, the dispatcher testified that it was the department's policy to NOT give orders to callers as it can make them directly liable for subsequent events.

In any case it has been established that Martin approached Zimmerman immediately before the attack. I would still love to hear the 'talking heads' address Rachel Jeantel's revelation during her CNN interview that Trayvon most likely initiated the attack on homophobic grounds, thus illustrating a real possibility that Trayvonís attack of Zimmerman was a hate crime.

One early columnist perpetuating the 'stay in the car' myth, was Jonathan Capehart, in a column of his in the Washington Post. Jonathan was corrected on this point by one William A. Jacobson, a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School. After having it pointed out to him, Mr. Capehart responded "fair point" and later removed the offending observation from his column. Unfortunately the myth continues due to a lack of due diligence on the part of many mainstream media outlets and commentators.

The esteemed Mrs. Taylor also makes an assumption that is not supported by any evidence whatsoever, that the Martin / Zimmerman case is a clear case of racial profiling. Three separate FBI interviews, witness testimony during the trial, and Zimmerman's own everyday life make an absolute lie of this statement. As I've mentioned before, Zimmerman is a man of mixed racial heritage who identifies as a Latino, and spent his free weekends working with his schoolteacher wife tutoring underprivileged minorities. He was a Democrat community activist with a history of standing up against racial injustice. Hardly someone anyone would expect to make criminal judgments based on race.

Arizona's 'Stand Your Ground Law' is well thought out and well written, the only disturbing aspect of the entire debate is that the idea of self defense has to be defended so often to begin with.

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