Republican senator pushes 'Stand Your Ground' bill in NY; residents say 'not in our state'
The "Stand Your Ground" law now on the books in 24 States was relatively obscure to the rest of the U.S. until it exploded on the national stage after the shooting death of an unarmed teenager in Florida.
17-year-old Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of 28-year-old George Zimmerman in Sanford on Feb. 26, woke up America and shone a glaring spotlight on a law many say is dangerous.
The neighborhood watchman was able to avoid being arrested and charged for almost two months, protected by Florida's Stand Your Ground law, for he claimed he shot the teenager at close range with a single hollow point bullet to the chest, in self-defense.
Millions argued that it couldn't be self-defense if he stalked the teen, disregarding the 911 operator's admonishment not to follow Trayvon, who was walking home form the corner 7-Eleven store with candy and a drink.
Zimmerman said he had no choice but to kill the young man because he was attacked. Others argued: But what about Trayvon's right to stand his ground?
It's this "he said, she said" grey area that many critics of the law say creates the dangerous situations and New Yorkers say they do not want this law in their neck of the woods. In an urban environment, with crime already concentrated, adding this controversial legislation will only exacerbate the danger.
But Republican State Senator George Maziarz, representing the 62nd District, doesn't see it this way and is pushing full steam ahead with his bill to introduce this highly contentious law to New York. Critics credit the corporate lobbying group ALEC for producing the model by which Stand Your Ground is based.
President George Greshem and more than a million people over at the Working Peoples Party (WFP) say they are not having it and have taken a stand against "Stand Your Ground." They have created an online petition and want everyone who feels strongly about this bill being wrong for New York, to click on the link below to sign.
"We’re asking Senator Maziarz to withdraw the bill. Common sense, and common decency, require that he do so," writes Gresham in an email to me this week.
Maziarz, defending his position on the issue, had this to say to wgrz.com:
"Individuals, in their homes, on their own property, in their cars, have every right to protect themselves, now if they feel threatened, legitimately threatened. They have a right to protect themselves, this law is not about protecting vigilantes, or people who take the law into their own hands."
The Senator had tried to push through a similar bill in 2008 but it died a swift death. If inacted, this new legislation will amend article 35 of the new York State Penal Law. Senate Democrats and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) are also pushing back hard against Maxiarz's Bill.
Before Florida's former governor Jeb Bush signed Stand Your Ground into law in 2005, State Sen. Steve Geller reportedly said this in opposition of the proposal, " "I don't think you ought to be able to kill people that are walking toward you on the street because of this subjective belief that you're worried that they may get in a fight with you."
ALEC and the NRA proved too strong in Florida, but New Yorkers say they are not going down without a vicious fight - a fight to keep some sanity in their cities, boroughs and counties.
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