A new public service announcement featuring a dramatization of Travyon Martin’s shooting death has once again ignited the debate over stand your ground laws.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence released the haunting PSA this week, titled “Stand up to ‘Stand Your Ground.’” It dramatizes glimpses of some of the alleged scenes from the fatal confrontation in 2012 between the unarmed teenager and neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, and uses real audio from 911 calls and a non-emergency line that Zimmerman phoned the night of the incident. Employing artistic license particularly at the end, the video shows rows of hoodie-clad bodies lying on the ground as the names of states flash on the screen, listing where these controversial laws exist.
“We based our dramatization around two 911 calls. Is it disturbing? You bet it is,” said Ladd Everitt, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence communications director. He told MSNBC, “It’s heartbreaking, and it should upset anyone who has basic human decency.”
In July, a six-woman jury acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter in Martin’s death. Zimmerman claimed self-defense in the shooting incident, saying he shot Martin after the teen attacked him; his legal team didn’t employ a stand your ground defense during the trial.
On Tuesday, George Zimmerman’s attorney slammed the PSA as “wildly inaccurate.”
“The PSA features a dramatic reenactment of the encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. While the PSA uses actual audio from George’s non-emergency call and witness 911 calls, the visual details of the reenactment are wildly inaccurate and they are unsupported by the actual evidence,” said Mark O’Mara in written statement. “By airing an interpretation of events that are easily dismissed as factual fantasy, the proponents for changes in the self-defense statutes in various states are actually damaging their arguments. “
“I have stated that Florida Statute 776 can use some polishing to address a person’s ability to retreat from a situation before using deadly force. But attempting an unsupported attack on the entire statute based solely on emotion will only cause doors to close and ears to go deaf.”
“The George Zimmerman case was not a ‘stand your ground’ case; it was clearly traditional self-defense, and therefore any campaign for the repeal of ‘stand your ground’ laws predicated on the facts of the Zimmerman case is a non-starter, and any campaign that relies on misrepresentations and misinformation is doomed to fail.”
The gun safety advocates behind the ad disputed O’Mara’s description of the PSA. “There is nothing in that video that is far-fetched,” Everitt said.
The group wants Americans to rally against these gun laws currently on the books in 26 states.