Stand Your Ground and the Democrats

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 19 2012 9:37 AM

Stand Your Ground and the Democrats

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 19: U.S. Rep.-elect Frederica Wilson (D-FL) (C) listens to an aide during an office selection lottery for new House of Representatives members November 19, 2010 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. New members of the House of Representatives have been in Washington for their orientation this week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

I don't know about this one, Free Beacon. The story is that Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida "voted for the self-defense law [Stand Your Ground] when she was a state senator in 2005." What a hypocrite? Except when we read on, we learn that she's not shredding the law at all.

Wilson has made several appearances on MSNBC and other news shows denouncing the shooting; however, she has tiptoed around the statute in question.
“That particular bill needs to be tweaked,” she told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. “It is being misused in this case. This is racial profiling; this is murder. This has nothing to do with ‘Stand Your Ground.’”

That's right: She voted for the bill and now wants to tweak it. That's... not very hypocritical! The static here is between Democrats who actually have to win elections in Florida and activist groups that want to channel the anger over the Martin case. In an earlier piece about post-Trayvon politics, I noticed that the Democrats with constituencies close to Sanford were not actually calling for Stand Your Ground to be pulled down. The candidates for state's attorney, a partisan elected office, basically agreed that the original law went too far and it needed to be looked at, but that it answered a real legal problem.

Widen the gyre, and you get to liberal activists who finally have a gun issue they can co-opt. Last week I sat in on a post-game strategy session held by Color of Change,, and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. One theme: In the Martin case, as in the Gabrielle Giffords situation, local politicos were not on board with a discussion of gun laws. (Giffords's staff was adamantly against this.)

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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