Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 31, 2015

Citing Trayvon Martin, Durbin Plans Hearing on ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin on Friday announced he would hold a hearing on “Stand Your Ground” laws like the one that’s generated so much controversy in Florida following the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

The subsequent trial of George Zimmerman for second-degree murder in the case generated national attention and became a fixation of cable news. A Florida jury acquitted Zimmerman last weekend of all charges, but that has far from stopped the attention on state laws regarding self-defense.

Durbin’s hearing will come when the Senate returns from the August recess. It will be before the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, of which he serves as chairman. Durbin’s office announced the hearing in a release just after noon Friday:

Around 30 states currently have some form of “stand your ground” laws on the books. September’s hearing will examine the gun lobby’s and the American Legislative Exchange Council’s influence in creating and promoting these laws; the way in which the laws have changed the legal definition of self-defense; the extent to which the laws have encouraged unnecessary shooting confrontations; and the civil rights implications when racial profiling and “stand your ground” laws mix, along with other issues.

A witness list was not yet available.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, like Durbin a Democrat from Illinois, had asked House Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., to call a similar hearing, but Goodlatte initially declined to comment.

  • WBCarson

    “Your comment is awaiting moderation. See your comment.”
    Obamas America.
    Hope and Change.

  • freal

    So important that we will get to it after recess.

  • Rumionemore

    Thirty of 50 states have SYG or similar laws. I don’t agree with the law, but I wish Durbin and others would spend time and energy pursuing a path that is actually useful: lowering taxes, helping generate jobs that are not low-wage, like most of the jobs being created now. You know, do something that could really make a difference to most Americans, especially those of us paying taxes.

    • lyris

      What gets me is that most of you are so called anti choice, yet you don’t want to save the lives of people already born.

      As for taxes make the rich pay their fair share. Ah but thanks to the gop and the sequester they are finally paying more than they did before.

      • Rumionemore

        I see what you are saying, but I believe there are many Americans who are disgusted with all political parties. I am pro choice and anti-guns, but I do believe that government spending has gotten out of control for military and entitlements. Most of the rich do pay their fair share, but corporations are probably the culprits. Any corporation who can pay its top officers in the millions and billions can afford to pay more taxes that could go to the poor.
        As for The Sequester, it needed to happen. People in D.C. didn’t even realize there was a recession. You can’t have the Nation’s Capitol living differently than other areas of the country and expect the economy to improve. They have been indifferent to people who have lost jobs, homes, etc. Reminds me of The Hunger Games.

      • Heartland Patriot

        “save the lives of people already born”…are you speaking of the violent criminals who attack other people for personal gain and enjoyment? Because NO, I do NOT want to save the lives of thugs and criminals, but I DO want to save MY life if I am attacked by violent criminals without having to think that the authorities are on the criminals’ side.

      • Infidel72

        Unborn children are denied equal opportunity to make choices. The evil and immoral among us make the ones that put themselves in peril by imperiling others.

      • grayden nicholson

        would you have preferred that Zimmerman was the one who was killed, from blunt force trauma to the back of his head, by the hands of Trayvon Martin? Does that make you any more of a protector of the living? Do you have any points to make with your blathering comments? I have yet to see you make a single valid point in any of your posts.

  • GNH

    Durbin is pandering to his base and looking for camera time, what else is new? “Stand Your Ground,” had nothing to do with Zimmerman v. Martin.

    Martin was on top of Zimmerman reaching for his gun. As a result, no reasonable avenue of self-defense existed, so there is no duty to retreat even if there was no “Stand Your Ground” statute(s). Durbin needs a refresher course.

    • lyris

      That’s your lie, er story and you’re sticking to it.

      • Infidel72

        You didnt watch the trial.


    KEEP your DAMNED nose out of STATES RIGHTS,,,

    • lyris

      Then stop murdering people.

      • Infidel72

        Your ignorance is noteworthy.. You have my sympathy.

      • Matthew Baker

        You’re the type who would rather lead innocent lawful citizens like sheep to the slaughter. Hopefully you never have to find yourself in a situation where you hoped you could defend yourself or a loved one and have no ability to.

  • GulfPundit

    Well, I’m sure glad Durbin’s in Washington to second guess state legislatures. Maybe he can also look into Chicago’s astounding murder rate and the descent of Illinois into bankruptcy.

    • lyris

      Too bad you don’t get all of the facts. Your sarcasm makes you sound ignorant.

      • GulfPundit

        Too bad your reply contains no facts. Your criticism is completely meaningless.

      • Heartland Patriot

        Do they teach a class on this stuff? Or do you just pick it up listening to the TV?

  • bob_seifert

    Stand your ground laws – if defeated leaves Americans in the half the states that have them, unable to defend themselves in their own homes. They must retreat from attackers to the furthest point of safety.

    They are just taking your rights away to protect yourselves in your own homes even one step at a time.

    • lyris

      There’s a load. Ask Marissa Alexander who did try to stand her ground. She was sent to prison because of a racist judge and jury.

      Unlike zimmerman she didn’t kill or even injure her abusive husband who actually threatened her life and now she’s in prison for twenty years away from her baby.

      Stand your group is another word for being able to murder African Americans and other minorities and getting away with it.

      • David Bulinski

        How can you support MAlexanders right to stand her ground in one sentence, then denounce stand your ground laws as a tool to kill minorities in another??

        • Pam Massey

          She was just a bad shot. You must have a lot of time for research.

          • David Bulinski

            Most of the law, courtroom procedure, and forensics is in my head. As far as case details go I just know how to research quickly and correctly. Funny thing is that Alexander probably would have gotten less time if she had actually killed him and gotten a plea deal.

          • Pam Massey

            Too true.

      • bob_seifert

        Sorry, your an ignoramus – as I stated, the stand your ground laws are used for HOME DEFENSE in many states. You can take your RACIST crap and peddle it elsewhere.

        Tired of nonsense from people like you ruining our country.

        I am tired of criminals acting like they are all worried about others, when all they are trying to do is disarm citizens to make it easier for themselves to make the rest of us victims.

      • bob_seifert

        Marissa Alexander LEFT her home, went outside to HER CAR where she retrieved a gun, went back inside her home and confronted her husband. Fired TWO gunshots through walls that penetrated the walls and endangered OTHERS recklessly.

        NO She was NOT Standing her ground. She was trying to intimidate her husband. In the process she, menaced, and at the very least caused reckless endangerment of human life.

        How nice you forgot to mention those two facts eh?

        Stand your ground is so you do not have to retreat from people attacking your home, vehicle or where you have a right to be. Not give you the right to go to a place of safety and GET a gun then return to intimidate someone. That sounds more on the line of premeditating a murder doesn’t it?

      • Heartland Patriot

        The only load is the bull that YOU are spewing. It has NOTHING to do with race, and EVERYTHING to do with defending oneself and not having to run away from being attacked by violent thugs…or are you saying you LIKE violent thugs?

        • Xavier Kingman

          lyris is an arm-chair quarterback, you can tell. either that, or a really bad Ostrich – you know, sticks their head in the dirt thinking the danger has disappeared cause they can’t see it? Z is Free!!! Z is Free!!! Justice is served!!! God Bless America.

      • Xavier Kingman

        nope im not white, but still willing to shoot and kill a future trayvon martin – black or white – if he was a perceived threat to me hands down – point blank range. if the gun didn’t work, i’d pistol whip him til he stopped moving.

  • lyris

    He got off on lies and racism.

    • Daniel E. Small

      Only you, a small group of nuts and the President believe it was racism that caused this. Even the Martin’s said Zimmerman wasn’t racist.

    • Infidel72

      That is not even a good thesis statement.

    • Quizzical Eagle

      EXACTLY!!! The police who investigated and found no reason to arrest Zimmerman were racist. The FBI agents who investigated the federal charges were racist. The 30+ witnesses they interviewed were lying racists. The DA who did not want to prosecute was racist. And of course, the jury was racist for acquitting. And everyone who refuses to see that this was all about race, and/or agrees with the racist jury, are racists.

      I’m so glad someone else sees and believes all of this rampant racism.

      • David Bulinski

        Careful. All that sarcasm in one paragraph makes you look like a liberal!!!! lmao!!

  • giatny

    He might as well hold hearings on finger painting as stand your ground
    laws are no more relevant to the Zimmerman tragedy. The 10th amendment
    gives states control over this issue. The federal government needs to
    leave states’ laws alone and end the witch hunt against Zimmerman.
    “Racial” profiling had nothing to do with the case either.

  • nitrat

    About time!!

    • Heartland Patriot

      Are you a thug? Has your chosen “line of work” become more hazardous?

  • nitrat

    The ALEC “stand your ground” laws changed the definition of self defense. You do realize that, right?

    • David Bulinski

      No it did not. Stand your ground laws came into being because of unscrupulous DA’s prosecuting victims of crimes and using the argument that they could have retreated instead of fighting back. In order for “stand your ground” to apply to lethal force you must still meet the requirement of being in “reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily injury”. All that “stand your ground” means is that in the face of an immediate threat you do not have to retreat. As granted to all of us by the Declaration of Independence we have the right to life and liberty. In other words if someone has a legal right to be somewhere, and they are attacked to the point of being justified in using lethal force, because they have that right to life and liberty they can defend themselves without retreating. So technically all “duty to retreat” laws violate our rights.

      • Aaron

        The Declaration of Independence DOES NOT grant us the right to self defense. I think you need to read it again because you’ve clearly missed the point. We have that right by virtue of being alive and human. Our CREATOR gave it to us.

        • David Bulinski

          Maybe you need to read what I wrote again. I said that it gives us the right to life and liberty. However since the right to self defense as common law actually pre-dates the US Constitution, even back to pre-America England and Europe, technically the 9th amendment covers it.

          The Ninth Amendment (Amendment IX) to the United States Constitution;

          “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

          • Aaron

            Hey genius, clearly you’re a slow learner so I’ll try one more time to educate you. Self-defense IS the defense of your life and liberty. The Declaration doesn’t give us anything it simply confirms the existence of things we already possess by virtue of being human. It doesn’t mention common law or any other law. Here’s the document’s relevant text in case you’ve somehow STILL missed the point:
            “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,that they are endowed by their CREATOR with certain unalienable Rights,that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
            Remember what you’ve hopefully finally learned here. There may be a test on this material in the future.

          • David Bulinski

            Oh I am so sorry, if I had known you were splitting hairs so bad I would have brought more conditioner. I say the document gives the people of the US the right, you say God gives us the right and the document affirms it. Either way the people have the right to self defense. This country was founded by people not God. Men wrote the DOI, not God. If the DOI did not exist would we still have the right to self defense? Probably, but the DOI and the Constitution guarantee it!!!!

      • Pam Massey

        Well said. It is an insane idea that you should try to flee and not defend yourself! If your life is in imminent danger its to late. Zimmerman was just going to see where the boy was going. Would it scare the crap out of anyone if someone jumped out of a shrub and attacked you?

  • ronb28135

    Stand your ground laws are simply a codification of the right to self defense that is guaranteed in the ninth amendment of the Bill of Rights. Of course this hack can’t leave it alone. He’s got to get some face time on liberal TV by creating a non issue by examining self defense in the United States, and being a Democrat he will push for a federal law to invalidate all state stand your ground laws.

  • ForTheLulz
  • Bosco Wamachuke

    Durbin is a self promoting scumbag politician who in the mold of Rahmbo Emanual never lets a crisis go to waste. Cannot produce anything substantiative, so lets talk about ways to control law abiding citizens!

  • Heartland Patriot

    Senator Durbin thinks that regular folks should have to run away when attacked by thugs; Senator Durbin must like thugs better than regular folks.

  • Bob O’Hara

    It’s much easier to enforce laws that restrict the liberties of law abiding people. There’s actually no sense in making laws that criminals, and irresponsible people will ignore. The only difference that SYG makes is that once you’ve preserved your life and/or property by neutralizing a bad guy, SYG laws protect you from being sued by the bad guy for injuring them.

  • kerry cale

    How about we have a hearing on the media doctoring the 911 tapes to incite riot and their role in the deaths that followed.

  • Philip Bloxam

    Yep, just another worthless politician trying to better his situation.Our court system worked, man was found innocent. Those that didn’t like the outcome can go pound sand.

  • Troy Moseley

    In Arkansas there is a duty to retreat if you can do so with complete safety, unless you are in your home. Had this case happened in Arkansas Zimmerman would still have been acquitted. According to testimony at the time of the shooting GZ was in fear for his life and could not retreat, that’s justification for the use of deadly force in any jurisdiction. Proof of this can be found in this video. This case wasn’t a SYG case at all…

  • YPetrinov

    Durbin, our laws aren’t up for your debate. It is literally ABOVE your authority.

  • waslegal
    • Zenon Caron

      well seen the tapes on tv. mr zimmerman was told not to chase young martin. they were in route ,and they would take care of it. and mr zimmerman went after young martin any way. mr zimmerman already did his part by calling it in. it is not like the boy was on mr z.’s property and or in his home and attacking him or even in the process of robbing or hurting anyone until mr z approached him. it is a very sad thing that this boy had to loose his life. remember the call came in as” a suspicious person” .just saying !! oh by the way i my self own a gun . but i am not going down the street looking for trouble .if it comes to me and or my family thats different. if i was walking down the street and someone came at me with a gun in hand and did not say stop p.d. i would also fight to the death. JUST LIKE YOUNG MARTIN DID …….. and yes it seams like its a double standard…..

      • Dyrewulf

        Not true. The dispatcher told GZ that “We don’t need you to do that” and also testified that he didn’t have the authority to tell GZ not to follow TM. Rachel Jeantel also testified that TM initiated the confrontation and that he was almost to the house he was staying at but returned to confront GZ. Everything you just said is incorrect. You want GZ to be guilty so badly that you’re willing to invent “facts” to make your case. Truly a shame.

      • grayden nicholson

        Was his name actually Young Martin? Would you not follow someone who is acting suspiciously in your neighborhood, to make sure that person does not harm your neighbors? If you would not, I am glad we’re not neighbors. Is it against the law for Zimmerman to walk around his own neighborhood? Does watching someone give another person the right to bash your head into the ground? You sound like a true idiot, bet you voted for Obama, huh?

  • waslegal
  • Dan Nowotarski

    Did Obama give the order that all his underling Obamabots should only speak of and bring attention to the Stand your ground laws & anything to do to with disarming Americans and the Trayvon / Zimmerman case, in order to distract American’s from his many scandals? These are weak politicians, I think they’re just following orders not fighting to protect our Liberties and Freedoms that they swore to protect. America needs to elect Constitution abiding Patriots to lead this country, enough with those always attempting to restrict our Liberties and Freedoms. God Bless America, Israel, the NRA and all Real Freedom Fighting Patriots.

  • Eldorado Russ

    We need to send all of these soap box politicians to retirement with pensions and health care cut 50% .

  • Joshua

    Does the Senator realize that Federal cases also use the stand your ground standard, after Federal courts a century ago ruled there is no duty to retreat?

    I wonder if Holder, Obama, and Durbin realize that, e.g., California has had stand your ground since it has been a state, well back into the 19th century, or that even Illinois has stand your ground. Or that duty to retreat laws only were invented later, in the 20th century, in order to shift burden of proof onto the defendant and enable easier prosecution. Before then, the standard varied a bit by jurisprudence, but generally not only if retreat was possible but whether it was the only reasonable course was considered. One you mandated by law that a duty to retreat is always incumbent, it was going to be abused and therefore abandoned legally.

    Other aspects of a self-defense claims are easier to judge and more relevant anyways, without getting into the mess of duty to retreat (remember, while being attacked detached reflection is difficult)

  • Scott Williams

    There seems to be a problem with the Democrats and not understanding that the normal American citizen does not have armed guards protecting them at all times. Also, they do not realize that the police response time of just a few minutes to their homes, does not happen to the rest of the population. So if they can come up with the money without increasing our national deficit again for more police officers, or come up with a better way for people to protect themselves, or come up with the answer to crime, they should shut the hell up and watch the American people stop criminals in their tracks and save the local, state, and federal governments lots of money!!!

  • Matthew Baker

    @lyris:disqus You sure spout a lot of crap on here. Perhaps you might think things over first, and then comment.

    I truly hope you’re not one of the people that this man is commenting about:

  • Bishop Greene

    What we need to do is get these fools out of office and get people in office who can think for themselves and not kiss Obama’s back end so he continues in office. Obama and all these nut jobs in office who believe what our lying scumbag president and morons like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Eric Holder who have lied to the American people. Look at Fast and Furious, the 4 dead Americans as a result of Obama’s negligence. Also look at Holder’s giving arms to our enemy and to drug cartels. They are using the tragedy of Martin to smoke screen the real issues so we don’t see them for what they really are. Obama and Holder need to go. The Black Community needs to stop listening to Sharpton, and Jackson as they enjoy keeping people on edge and fighting as it gives them pleasure in keeping the pot stirring. When people of all races learn to think for themselves and stop listening to race baiters and liars like these so called men, two of whom claim to be ministers but in my 28 years of ministry I have never seen or heard a minister who speaks hate not love. Wake up America and see these people for who they are. Lying, deceptive con-men who want to use and abuse citizens of all races. Obama did it during the election when he got the Black Panthers to man polls telling people to vote for him, and Sharpton by his hate speech from a man who is no more a minister then my car is a Caddilac.

    • Bishop Greene

      FYI, I drive a mini van being a family man, so case and point.


    Am I right in saying that Stand Your Ground laws along with Concealed Carry have reduced the amount of violent crime in the states that have these laws. If so, then what basis do these people have for wanting to take away a good thing? Oh, and another thing, the 2nd Amendment guarantees our right to stand our ground. We should not be cowering in the corner like flaming Liberals while the predators prey on our property and our families.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...