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Trayvon Martin mom assails 'stand your ground' in Congress. Will it matter? (+video)

The mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Russell Davis, another slain 17-year-old, spoke before the Senate Tuesday, pressing lawmakers to ask states to clarify their controversial stand your ground laws.

By Contributor / October 29, 2013

Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, testified on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary hearing on 'stand your ground' laws.

Manuel Balce Cenet/AP

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Two mothers whose unarmed, black sons were fatally shot last year spoke before the Senate Tuesday, pressing lawmakers to ask states to clarify their controversial “stand your ground" laws.

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Staff Writer

Elizabeth Barber is a staff writer at The Christian Science Monitor. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and English from SUNY Geneseo. Before coming to the Monitor, she was a freelance reporter at DNAinfo, a New York City breaking news site. She has also been an intern at The Cambodia Daily, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and at Washington D.C.’s The Middle East Journal.

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The women – Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and Lucia Holman McBath, mother of Jordan Russell Davis – both lost their 17-year-old sons in incidents in which “stand your ground” laws became a justification for shooting the teenagers, rather than fleeing the situation.

The Democrat-convened hearing was held despite no expected congressional action on the issue, the Associated Press said. The 2014 midterm elections could put pressure on members of Congress to clarify their positions on guns, but so far, Congress has been reluctant to intervene in states' right to keep stand your ground laws on the books.

In February 2012, Trayvon was walking home in Sanford, Fla., with a package of Skittles in his pocket, when a complex narrative unfolded: George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, and Trayvon got into an fight, and Mr. Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon in self-defense. But others said that Trayvon had come under suspicion of being a criminal because he was wearing a hoodie.

The trial this summer for Zimmerman factored in stand your ground legislation. Such laws, on the books in some version in 22 states, including Florida, allow a person who believes him- or herself threatened with death or harm to choose not to retreat, even if retreating is an available option. On July 13, Zimmerman was acquitted of both second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The trial has furnished a continued brimming debate over stand your ground laws.

"I just wanted to come here to talk to you for a moment to let you know how important it is that we amend this stand your ground because it certainly did not work in my case," Ms. Fulton, Trayvon's mother, told the Senate.

"The person that shot and killed my son is walking the streets today,” she said. “This law does not work."

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