Vice President Joe Biden says that he expects a fresh debate over Florida’s “State Your Ground” law, which is being used to defend neighborhood watchmen George Zimmerman after he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
“I think the governor of Florida was correct and the president was correct in saying we should look at all aspects to get to the bottom of this case, Trayvon’s case,” the vice president told CBS host Bob Schieffer on Sunday. “And in the process, I’m confident — at least, I’m of the view, I understand that the state is saying they’re going to look back and see all the aspects in this. What contributed to this? What happened? Who’s responsible?”
“And I’m confident that the people of Florida will debate and discuss whether or not this law, that ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, whether it’s being applied as it was intended to apply, and whether or not as intended it makes sense,” he added.
For his defense, Zimmerman has been relying on the so-called “Stand Your Ground” law, which Florida became the first state to pass in 2005, expanding self-defense zones to most public places. As The Christian Science Monitor noted, the law does away with the English Law concept of a “duty to retreat.”
“Welcome to the Sunshine State,” Florida criminal defense attorney Eric Schwartzreich told Fox News last month. “The heat we’re packing here, it’s not sunshine, it’s firearms. We call this the ‘Shoot First and Ask Questions Later’ law. Someone has a right to defend themselves and stand their ground.”
“Do you on balance think these laws are good laws?” Schieffer asked Biden on Sunday.
“On balance, I think that it’s important that people be put in a position where their Second Amendment rights are protected, but that they also don’t as a consequence of the laws unintendedly put themselves in harm’s way,” Biden explained.
“You know, the bulk of the people who are shot with a weapon — other than these drug gangs taking on one another — end up being shot with their own weapon.”
He added: “So, the idea that there’s this overwhelming additional security in the ownership and carrying concealed and deadly weapons, I think it’s the premise — not the constitutionality, but the premise that it makes people safer is one that I’m not so sure of.”
Watch this video from CBS’s Face the Nation, uploaded April 1, 2012.
(H/T: USA Today)