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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.

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Florida’s stand your ground law is also expected to factor into the trial of Michael David Dunn, Jordan’s alleged killer, next year. Last year in Jacksonville, Fla., Mr. Dunn allegedly fired nine rounds on a Dodge Durango with four teenagers inside, after complaining about their loud music. He says he saw a gun inside the vehicle, though authorities did not retrieve a gun from the scene.

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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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Ms. McBath, Jordan’s mother, told the Senate that she is confronted with the "very real possibility that my son's killer will walk free, hiding behind a statute that lets people claim a threat where there was none." 

"Even the Wild West had more stringent laws governing the taking of life than we have now. Stand your ground defies all reason. It goes against the sound system of justice established long ago on this very hill," she said.

In a microcosm of the discussion that has rankled the United States in recent months, senators tussled over stand your ground legislation at the Judiciary Committee hearing.

“It is clearly time for stand your ground to be carefully reviewed," said Sen. Richard Durbin (D) of Illinois, who had called for the hearing.

"These stand your ground laws have allowed shooters to walk free in shocking situations,” he said.

But Sen. Ted Cruz (R) of Texas said, "No one in this room knows exactly what happened that night," referring to the night Trayvon was shot.

There’s a difference "between serious efforts to stop violent crime and efforts to advance a political agenda,” he said.

Florida was the first state to pass a stand your ground law in 2005. Since then, many other states have adopted some version of the law: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia, according to the AP. At least nine laws include the language “stand your ground.”

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