The “This Week” roundtable joined the roiling national conversation on the shooting death of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, questioning the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law at the center of the case.
“The problem with the law is that – ‘Stand Your Ground’ is that you often end up in the ground, in the case of an innocent person like Trayvon Martin,” ABC News contributor Donna Brazile said. “And in the case of George Zimmerman, you end up doing things that perhaps you would not have done.”
“I belong to a neighborhood watch,” Brazile added. “We don’t carry pistols. We don’t carry guns. We try to protect the streets. We try to protect the neighborhood. We don’t profile people.”
ABC’s George Will called the “Stand Your Ground” law a “bad idea” because it “confers upon citizens the illusion at least that they have something like powers exercised by highly trained police officers.”
“[The law] tries to codify a right of self-defense,” Will said. “Mr. Zimmerman says he was acting under this self-defense law, but he is said to have been recorded saying that he was in pursuit of the person. You cannot be in pursuit and acting in self-defense.”
“Nightline” co-anchor Terry Moran said no other state has a law as far-reaching as Florida’s in allowing citizens to avoid arrest by claiming self-defense.
“In Florida, the law says, if you raise a claim of self-defense after killing someone in public, you can’t even be arrested” unless police have probable cause that the force that was used was unlawful,” Moran said. “It’s why prosecutors and police hated this law… It sabotaged our justice system.”
ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd said he found it ironic that many of the states that have passed similar laws and have pushed for expanded gun ownership and carrying rights are the same who “push for prayer in the school.”
“We want to be a Christian nation and we want to act in a Christian manner, but, oh, by the way, we don’t believe in the turn your other cheek and we don’t believe in love your enemy,” Dowd said. “We believe in loading citizens and basically giving them an opportunity to shoot people.”
ABC’s Cokie Roberts agreed with Brazile that the case showed deeper long-standing racial fears in the country.
“Young black men or black men of any age, you know, are considered suspects,” Roberts said. “And whether it’s a cab driver who won’t pick them up or whether it’s a white person crossing the street because she’s nervous to have a black man on the same side of the street as she is, that’s real. That happens in our society.”
Brazile said she hoped the media attention on the case first raised by the African American community will also bring attention to repealing Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, and bringing more attention to homicides of young black males.
“This really was a social media movement. And you’ll see over the next couple of days even more petitions aimed at the governor and others to repeal this law,” Brazile said. “Trayvon Martin is a tragedy, but there’s another tragedy, in the number of black — young black boys killed. They make up less than 15 percent in our society, but more than 45 percent of homicides.”