The National Rifle Association criticized Attorney General Eric Holder for exploiting the death of Trayvon Martin to push the Obama administration's gun control legislation by attacking the "stand your ground" self-defense laws.
Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said that Holder's comments went too far by sparking a debate on the self-defense laws, The Hill reports
"The attorney general fails to understand that self-defense is not a concept, it's a fundamental human right," Cox said in a statement. "To send a message that legitimate self-defense is to blame is unconscionable, and demonstrates once again that this administration will exploit tragedies to push their political agenda."
Holder made comments about the controversial self-defense laws that took center stage in the George Zimmerman trial while speaking at the annual NAACP convention Tuesday
"Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," Holder said.
"Stand your ground" self-defense laws are legal in more than two dozen states, including Florida, and allow a person to use a deadly weapon in defense, if they feel like their life is threatened. That law was not used by Zimmerman's defense team in their arguments for their client.
Holder implied that such laws can encourage gun owners to take matters into their own hands, and that it might be time to give self-defense laws a "hard look."
"But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely," Holder said. "By allowing — and perhaps encouraging — violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety."
Holder's comments reflect President Barack Obama's statement he made Sunday following the acquittal of Zimmerman in the death of Martin, in which Obama also used the occasion to take another look at the issue of gun violence.
"We should ask ourselves if we're doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis," Obama said. "We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this."
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