NRA: Holder exploiting Trayvon Martin death to push gun control agenda

The National Rifle Association (NRA) on Wednesday accused Attorney General Eric Holder of exploiting the death of Trayvon Martin to push the Obama administration’s gun control agenda.

NRA Executive Director Chris Cox blasted Holder’s calls for states to review “stand your ground” laws, which allow the use of deadly force for self-defense. Those statutes received scrutiny during the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who was acquitted Saturday on charges of murder and manslaughter in the shooting of Martin, an unarmed black teenager.

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"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." 

In a speech Tuesday, Holder said "stand your ground" laws in states like Florida encouraged "violent situations to escalate.”

"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. 

The attorney general called for a "hard look" at the laws, on the books in some 24 states. The statutes eliminate the obligation of citizens to attempt to retreat before using deadly force.


Zimmerman was acquitted on Saturday of second-degree murder charges, but had argued self-defense, rather than invoking Florida’s "stand your ground" exception.

The White House has also suggested that the shooting death of Martin should be an occasion to reexamine the issue of gun violence.

"We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities," President Obama said in a statement on Sunday after the verdict. 

"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.  We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this."