Gingrich: Stand Your Ground Law Doesn't Apply in Trayvon Martin Case

Friday, 23 Mar 2012 12:37 PM

By Marti Lotman

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The killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin is tragic, but the investigation is being handled properly and the stand your ground law should not apply, according to presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.

“I think Americans can recognize that while this is a tragedy — and it is a tragedy — that we’re going to relentlessly seek justice, and I think that’s the right thing to do,” Gingrich told CNN’s Piers Morgan.

“I’m sure he’s going to present the evidence, not just the 911 call but the previous 911 calls and the fact that the police have been dealing with this guy, apparently, for a year. I have faith that the American system of justice will in fact work, and this is why you have a balance between the police and the district attorney.”

Martin, who was a black 17-year-old, was killed on Feb. 26 as he returned home from a store, allegedly by George Zimmerman, a Hispanic neighborhood watch captain, who claims he shot Martin in self-defense.

Zimmerman had called 911 to report a suspicious person. The dispatcher told him not to follow Martin. The case has caused outrage with national civil rights leaders including Al Sharpton and NAACP leader Ben Jealous who believe the act was racially motivated.

Morgan pressed Gingrich on the broader issue, asking, “Isn’t this stand your ground law a lot of old nonsense? Dangerous nonsense, that’s now being abused, left, right and center, by people who just want to shoot people?”

“I think, Piers, you just took an enormous jump,” Gingrich responded. “That’s like cities that have rules that even if somebody breaks into your house, you can’t defend yourself. Both extremes taken in the wrong direction are false.

"Clearly you should have the right to defend yourself in your own home, and clearly it should not be translated from standing your own ground into pushing somebody else. And that's what's going to come down to the question here." 

Gingrich admitted that he didn’t know all the facts surrounding the Martin case, but said the stand your own ground law ultimately would not apply in this case.

The law, also known as the Castle doctrine, dictates that a person can "meet force with force" if they feel threatened.

“The young man apparently was not following the person who’s being investigated,” he said. “Apparently, the shooter was following the young man. That’s not a stand your own ground, that’s pushing into the other guy's ground. And I think you’re going to find the law, as interpreted normally, doesn’t apply to this case.”

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