July 16, 2013

Juror: Trayvon Martin “played a huge role in his death.” (Did prosecution play role in acquittal?)

Update, news story here

@MarcACaputo

Anderson Cooper’s blockbuster interview with Juror B37 continues tonight, and it looks like the anonymous woman has some pretty explosive things to say.

The partial transcript:

Anderson Cooper: Do you think Trayvon Martin played a role in his own death? That this just isn't something that happened to him. This is something he also...

Juror: Oh I believe he played a huge role in his death. He could have... When George confronted him, he could have walked away and gone home. He didn't have to do whatever he did and come back and be in a fight.

AC: And the other jurors felt that as well?

Juror: They did. I mean, as far as my perspective of it, they did.

Beyond the idea that the unarmed victim is to blame for his own shooting death, it's interesting the juror thinks Zimmerman “confronted” Trayvon at one point. If so, that gets Zimmerman closer to being an “aggressor,” a title under Florida statutes that could have denied him a Stand Your Ground defense.

We were the first (April 15, 2012) to note the significance of the statute as it relates to this case and Stand Your Ground. Read that here

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Daily Show: “Florida: the worst state” for Zimmerman verdict

@MarcACaputo

Daily Show host John Oliver took aim at the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict and Florida’s self-defense laws, saying the state has rebranded itself into the worst of the 50.

“I think it might honestly be time for the Sunshine State to officially change its motto,” Oliver said.

“Welcome to Florida: The worst state,” a graphic of a mock roadside welcome sign said as it flashed on the screen behind him.

“Of the many truly depressing things about this case, where a man was found not guilty after admitting pursuing and shooting an unarmed teenager, one is just how unsurprised people seemed to be about the verdict,” Oliver said.

He then played news clips of pundits explaining Florida’s self-defense laws and why a not-guilty verdict was likely in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an armed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens.

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“Miami girl” Rachel Jeantel tells the world “nigga” is ok, not racist

@MarcACaputo

Rachel Jeantel, who popularized the phrase “creepy ass cracker” in uncomfortable testimony that added a new racial dimension to the George Zimmerman trial, gave a lesson about Miami urban culture on CNN Monday night when she said that the word “nigga” isn’t a racist term.

Jeantel, 19, also discussed her feelings, marijuana use in her urban Miami community and the reaction to her testimony about talking by phone with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin just before Zimmerman shot and killed him in Sanford.

Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday and one juror had said earlier on the network that Jeantel’s slang-filled testimony – crucial for the prosecution -- was both not credible and hard to understand.

Asked by CNN host Piers Morgan: “Is there’s anything you wished you said” on the witness stand?

“Nigga,” Jeantel responded.

“The whole world say it’s a racist word,” she said, adding that she believed people changed it around [and] It start spelling N-I-G-G-A…”

What’s that mean to you? Morgan asked her.

“That mean a male,” Jeantel responded, “any kind of male. Any kind. Chinese can say nigga. That’s my Chino, nigga. They can say that.”

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Jury talked Stand Your Ground before not-guilty Zimmerman verdict, juror says

 

@MarcACaputo

Jurors discussed Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense law before rendering their not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial, one of the jurors told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

The jurors struggled with the law and the jury instructions, said the juror, who spoke anonymously and was identified only by her court ID, B37.

“The law became very confusing. It became very confusing,” she told Cooper Monday night. “We had stuff thrown at us. We had the second-degree murder charge, the manslaughter charge, then we had self defense, Stand Your Ground.”

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July 15, 2013

Why Stand Your Ground will still stand after George Zimmerman verdict

@MarcACaputo

George Zimmerman is not guilty. Trayvon Martin is dead.

Now Florida’s Stand Your Ground law is back on trial in the court of public opinion.

Count on a hung jury.

There’s just too much raw, partisan emotion surrounding too many intractable issues (guns, crime, race) for any major consensus.

And if the Florida Legislature actually reviews any legislation that makes the case to change the self-defense law, an acquittal is likely.

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June 28, 2013

Gov. Scott signs bill to ban gun sales to mentally ill

Gov. Rick Scott signed a  gun control bill Friday to close a loophole in firearm sales to some mentally ill people, a controversial measure that has divided gun rights activists.

In his bill signing statement, Scott assures conservative supporters he is a "strong supporter of the Second Amendment" and has "signed legislation protecting the privacy of firearm owners and stopping local governments from overreaching in the regulation of firearms."

As for his support of this bill, Scott states that "Reasonable parameters on firearm purchases must be set forth in state law to ensure public safety...

"Mental health and second amendment advocates worked together to produce this bill that does not affect persons voluntarily seeking mental  health exams or treatments but rather closes a loophole in current law that could potentially put firearms in the hands of dangerous, mentally ill individuals who are a threat to themselves or others as determined by a court."

Scott notes that "other states, such as Virginia and Mississippi, have passed similar laws to ensure the protections of their citizens and visitors."

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June 27, 2013

Group aiming for gun veto intensifies battle; fights suit in Colorado

The Colorado-based gun group that has been waging an email campaign against a Florida bill that would help prevent some people who are mentally ill from buying guns has come under fire in its home state.

The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) and its affiliate, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), both based in Colorado, have been named in a lawsuit over the misuse of an engagement photo of a gay New Jersey couple kissing in political attack ads.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in May added the names of the gun groups plus Dudley Brown (executive vice president of the National Association for Gun Rights and the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners group) and and NAGR's Lucius O’Dell and Andrew Brown to a suit filed in the U.S. District Court in Denver. The lawsuit originally named just the anti-gay organization, Public Advocate of the United States.

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June 20, 2013

NRA launches email campaign to support bill banning firearms sale to mentally ill

Gun rights Marion Hammer, who for decades has fought laws that restrict firearms in Florida, is mounting a campaign to urge Gov. Rick Scott to sign a bill that will ban gun purchases –- for the mentally ill

Hammer, the powerful lobbyist for the National Rifle Association and United Sportsmen of Florida, has started an email “alert” to about 200,000 of the group’s members  urging them to “Please email Governor Scott right away and urge him to sign HB-1355.”

The blitz is necessary, she said, to “counter the barrage of emails” loaded with “patently false” information filling Scott's “Sunburst” email inbox.

Since the bill’s passage, the governor’s office has received at least 17,008 emails and 2,711 calls in opposition to the bill (as of June 19). Many of the emails are identical, except for names of  the senders. In contrast, Scott has received a dozen calls and one email in support of the bill.

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June 14, 2013

"Chicken Charlie" Crist draws fire in gun-control web video

@MarcACaputo

As former Gov. Charlie Crist appears ready to announce a bid for his old job, the Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat has a target on his back for his old positions.

Especially guns.

Once A-rated by the NRA, Crist no longer will be. The gun lobby will back Gov. Rick Scott. But Crist also appears to be taking fire from progressives, including this new group, gutsorguns.com, that just posted this "Chicken Charlie" video:

 

After posting this, we got the press release:

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May 06, 2013

Thousands of gun owners email Gov. Scott seeking veto of NRA-backed gun law

More than 4,000 people emailed Gov. Rick Scott on Friday, telling him to veto the only gun bill that passed through the Florida Legislature this year.

The bill, HB 1355, aims to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, and received the blessing of the National Rifle Association. It passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House on a 117-1 vote.

 Gun owners--who have sent Scott more than 20,000 emails in the last two weeks opposing any new gun legislation—are urging Scott to use his veto pen on HB 1355.

“I am opposed to any expansion of gun control, of any kind,” wrote Douglas Elliot, of Polk County. “Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg is bent on disarming every American in this country. I am an American citizen and am a responsible owner.”

The bill would close a loophole in Florida law that allows people who voluntarily commit themselves to a mental institution to buy a gun once they leave. People who are involuntarily committed under the state’s “Baker Act” laws are currently prohibited from buying firearms.

Most people who are committed into mental institutions in Florida do so voluntarily. Officials from the National Rifle Association worked with a Miami Gardens Democrat, Rep. Barbara Watson, to try and close the loophole.

Watson’s bill was one of more than a dozen gun control laws proposed by Florida Democrats this year, the first session after the mass shooting of 20 children and six educators in Newtown, Connecticut. Other than HB 1355, none of the bills received a hearing in Florida’s firearm-friendly Legislature.

 However, for the first time in several years, the Legislature did not pass any controversial bills to expand gun rights—perhaps a side effect of the national firestorm over gun crime.

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