Gov. Jan Brewer said Tuesday that nothing in the death of Trayvon Martin or the acquittal of George Zimmerman of murder charges gives her second thoughts about signing Arizona’s own “stand your ground’’ law.
“The Zimmerman trial was heart-wrenching because it was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened,’’ Brewer said in her first public comments since the acquittal this past weekend.
“It did happen,” she continued. “And justice took its place.”
But the governor said the incident does not taint the whole concept behind the statute.
“I support ‘stand your own ground,’” she said.
“I think it’s important,” Brewer continued. “I think it’s a constitutional right.”
The essence of Zimmerman’s defense was that he felt in danger. That was coupled with Florida law which says those who feel threatened with great bodily harm have no duty to retreat.
More to the point, they are entitled to “meet force with force, including deadly force,” if the person reasonably believes that is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to self or other, or prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
Arizona’s version is somewhat more restrictive than the Florida statute.
It says there is no duty to retreat before threatening or using deadly physical force “if the person is in a place where the person may legally be and is not engaged in an unlawful act.”
But the language is paired with other laws which say that right to remain and fight is linked to someone else’s use or threatened use of deadly physical force. Bodily harm or preventing a felony are not justification.
Brewer said she does not see law allowing people to stand their ground as promoting situations where individuals purposely follow someone, leading to the incident, as testimony showed Zimmerman had done.
“I think anybody that, I mean, anybody that has a gun and has a right to carry it, that they would be very judicious in their actions and careful,” she said. And Brewer said it’s wrong to blame what happened in Florida on the statute.
“Those kinds of things could happen even if you didn’t have those laws,” the governor said.
The Arizona law was not introduced as separate legislation but tacked on to another unrelated measure dealing with guns near the end of the 2010 session.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee approved it after a 20-second promotion from a gun-rights lobbyist. And not a single legislator spoke out against it at any point.