In the wake of Trayvon Martin's killing, even Dennis Baxley -- the original sponsor of Florida's Stand Your Ground law and among the most pro-gun legislators in the whole country -- has distanced himself from the law by saying it shouldn't apply to George Zimmerman. Gov. Rick Scott has bowed to popular pressure to name a task force to review the law. But one gun group is lobbying hard to keep the law untouched, with a plea to its 300,000 members and a public petition to Scott.
"There's a drumbeat to cast these laws as a terrible thing," Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, tells Riptide. "We felt it was important to push back."
Pratt argues that murder rates are down in Florida in large part because of Stand Your Ground and that the Trayvon Martin case shouldn't muddy the waters of a successful piece of legislation.
"Criminals are more aware than ever that people are allowed to defend themselves using whatever means are necessary," Pratt says.
Unlike Baxter and other Stand Your Ground sponsors, Pratt argues that Zimmerman should be covered by the law. Just because he pursued Martin doesn't mean Zimmerman shouldn't be allowed to shoot to kill once his life was in danger, he says.
"If indeed Zimmerman was on his back with his head being pounded into the sidewalk, this was a justifiable homicide," he says.
In the online petition to Scott, Pratt's group warns that "Florida is ground zero in the battle to protect your right to defend yourself" and that the "anti-gun" voices on Scott's task force will call for a repeal of Stand Your Ground and other gun laws.
(Worth noting: Every single member of Scott's task force supported Stand Your Ground, and Baxley -- who wrote it -- is also a member.)
Pratt says he doesn't have any figures about how many have signed his online petition since it went live last week, but that "members of Gun Owners of America are very supportive that you ought to be able to defend yourself and will get behind this."
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