Co-Sponsor of Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' Law Discusses Trayvon Martin Shooting

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kel-Tec pistol (Jimmy Smith/flickr)

In Florida, there have been growing calls this week for lawmakers to revisit the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law — a piece of legislation that figures prominently in the story of the story of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's shooting. Martin, who is black, was killed while he was walking back to his friend’s house from 7-Eleven during halftime of the NBA All-Star Game. George Zimmerman, the self-described neighborhood watch captain, claims he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged with any crime. Yesterday, Seminole County's state attorney announced that a grand jury investigation into the shooting will begin next month. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are calling for an inquiry into the self-defense law at the center of the case.

Florida state Republican Representative Dennis Baxley was one of the original sponsors of the “Stand Your Ground” legislation in the Florida House of Representatives in 2005.


Dennis Baxley

Produced by:

Mythili Rao

Comments [9]


There are HUNDREDS of African American teens being shot annually on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles and elsewhere.

I'd like to know why this one shooting is such a disproportionately large "news" story. I don't doubt that there is an answer; I'd just like somebody like John Hockenberry articulate it clearly.

Hockenberry might claim that it is about a larger policy issue, the Florida Stand Your Ground Law. That's fine if Hockenberry wants to do that. But of course, it is not at all clear to me that the Law will in fact prevent a prosecution in this case.

Hockenberry might claim it is about a toxic (?) social mixture of a minority teen in an upscale neighborhood (which, we ought to note, happened to be the tragically-killed teen's OWN neighborhood), combined with a poorly organized (was it "organized" at all?) Neigborhood Watch.

Hockenberry might even point to the many national protests springing from this event, and (rightly) claim that he didn't start any of them, but since he's a journalist he is certainly going to cover the story. Fine. Let's start with, "Who exactly are the protesters protesting AGAINST?" As near as I can tell, there is a state grand jury investigation and a federal civil rights investigation, ongoing now. What do the protesters want? For the investigations to hurry up, so that they can get the indictments they want, fast?

I'll put it more plainly: how long will MSNBC be able to keep turning this story into airtime-filler, if Fox News isn't putting up any opposition? Who will the protesters target? President Obama? Eric Holder?

Mar. 22 2012 03:16 PM
An American from Boston

First, John Hockenberry loves to piss people off. That is why we listen to his broadcast. He likes to stir people up. He is so much more entertaining than his co-host who is just so self-righteous and never lets him talk when she is around. John has pissed me off more than once, but I’m on to his game. And, I believe that Senator Baxley today handled himself superbly.
Now to the topic, I would like to say that this is definitely a case of murder. The gun-carrying zealot, Zimmerman, pursued the unarmed teen, Trayvon, and shot him in cold blood. Plain and simple. We can call this a hate crime, but Zimmerman just looks like a nut to me. Don’t we have laws against vigilantism to protect the public against these sorts of crazies? But, my outrage at the injustice here is not why I’m chiming in. I don’t believe that we can blame the self-defense law that Senator Baxley helped pass. We have to blame the police for not arresting Zimmerman in the first place.
Senator Baxley is right that the problem here is that the police misinterpreted the intent of the self-defense law. Every other living creature has the God-given right to protect itself, and so should man. An individual who is minding his own business and finds himself threatened should be allowed to defend himself. Period. Clearly, however, a person with a gun who is pursuing another unarmed person is looking for trouble. If Zimmerman thought that Trayvon was a threat, he should have called the police and stayed clear. But, Zimmerman had an agenda, and it was an evil one.
Yes we can logically reason that this non-white psychopath is probably a racist given the bleeped word from the 911 tapes that fateful night, but the racism here is much more on display with the police department. You can bet your sweet arse that if the roles were reversed and the self-appointed crime watch guy were black and the teen white, the police would have arrested the shooter. Racism is alive and well in “post-race” America.
Got to get back to work
PS I’m a female Democrat who currently lives in Massachusetts who believes in the right to bear arms and the right to defend myself. If someone breaks into my home or car while I’m in it, I don’t want to have to wait until they are raping me or sticking a knife in me until I can defend myself. In Massachusetts you have to let the stranger in your home and rape you. You can’t shoot him if he doesn’t shoot at you first. It makes no sense, AND it is not fair!!
PPS Please excuse any typos, misspellings, or poor grammar. I wrote this quickly.

Mar. 22 2012 01:01 PM

Who is George Zimmerman?

Why did City of Sanford police not arrest George Zimmerman?

Mar. 22 2012 12:22 PM


"stunned" not "suttned."

Where that wildly inexplicable typo came from, I do not know.

Mar. 22 2012 11:21 AM

I must say, I was a little suttned by this interview. Not with anything that Rep. Baxley said; I thought he was as polite and as forthcoming as one could hope for from an interview subject.

No; I was stunned at the recklessness and the hostility of John Hockenberry, who must have been prompted into becoming a kind of media prosecutor by watching his friends on MSNBC last night.

As someone has already pointed out, it is worth noting that John Hockenberry's calling the shooter a "Crime Watch Captain" seems to be basically incorrect. I, for one, am not going to stretch my criticism of John Hockenberry into a defense of George Zimmerman. Hockenberry also called Zimmerman "white," did he not? Is that true? Or is Zimmerman of a mixed (Latino and other) ethnicity?

But it got much worse. Hockenberry sought to berate the Representative over the "Stand Your Ground" law having been the source of a defense for Zimmerman. IS THAT TRUE? Zimmerman was not charged. Personally, I don't know why or how the investigation might have been closed so prematurely. Again, I am not defending Zimmerman. But where, in any official record, is there a notation that local Seminole County officials closed the investigation because of the Stand Your Ground law?

And why, John Hockenberry, challenge the Representative on the passage of the Florida law? "Model" or "pattern" legislation gets drafted ALL THE TIME. John, if you or any of The Takeaway's listeners Google the term "model legislation," they will see that interest groups from The Innocence Project, to the Anti-Defamation League, to the Legal Community Against Violence, to ALEC (another one of the civic organizations that public radio singles out for doubt and hatred), to pro-medical marijuana groups are ALL putting out model legislation drafts. John Hockenberry's harping about the NRA is can only be bluntly termed as "dumb," and beneath the sophistication of what a public radio audience ought to expect.

Again, I just want to congratulate Representative Dennis Baxley, who was polite, direct, honest, intelligent and articulate in his responses to John Hockenberry.

And I'll say this, directly to John Hockenberry; if you want to pursue this kind of hostile questioning in pursuit of the real story, that's fine. I think that in this interview, you (barely) kept it within the bounds of civility. Just promise us this, John; that if Al Sharpton or some other racial grievance professional is invited onto your show as a guest to discuss this case, that you will be just as hostile and as prosecutorial with them.

Mar. 22 2012 11:19 AM
kmarnyc from New York CIty

I think you've put up the wrong audio link for this story (you've got the FB password handover story here). Can you please remedy this?

Mar. 22 2012 09:18 AM
Dennis from Rochester Hills, MI

I'm moving to Canada!

Mar. 22 2012 08:08 AM

Florida, especially the northern counties, is like that JCPenny TV ad with Ellen Degeneres. Everytime you reach for your coupons people duck behind the counter. Also when you reach for your credit card or your mobile or your breath mints and so on. That's not true, we holster our firearms on the small of our back. We learn this in elementary school.

Mar. 22 2012 07:31 AM
doesntmatter from nyc

So why did the cops not arrest Zimmerman if they are not conferring the benefits of the statute on the murderer?

And why does he call him a "Crime Watch Captain"? Instead of just "bigot"?

Mar. 22 2012 06:16 AM

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