WASHINGTON -- The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has released a chilling new online ad reenacting the night Travyon Martin was killed, in an effort to stop the controversial Stand Your Ground laws nationwide.
The nonprofit group uses actual audio from the 911 calls that shooter George Zimmerman and a witness made that night in Sanford, Fla. After the sound of a gunshot, people in hoodies are seen lying on the ground, and the names are displayed of the more than 20 states that have Stand Your Ground laws in place.
The group has also launched a website and a petition asking people to urge their state lawmakers to "oppose this immoral legislation.”
"'Stand Your Ground' laws have essentially legalized murder. With this PSA, we hope to add to the nationwide push to repeal these immoral laws," said CSGV Communications Director Ladd Everitt.
The laws allow individuals to use deadly force in cases of self-defense, with no obligation to first attempt to retreat. They gained attention after the fatal shooting of Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Feburary 2012. Zimmerman cited Florida's Stand Your Ground law as justification for killing Martin and authorities initially refused to arrest him. Zimmerman was eventually tried, and last month he was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Stand Your Ground laws have been backed by the National Rifle Association and the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, which lost some of its corporate backers after its role in pushing Stand Your Ground laws came to light.
A group of student activists known as the Dream Defenders have been advocating against Florida's Stand Your Ground law in recent weeks, staging what turned out to be the longest ever sit-in at the Florida Capitol, which lasted 31 days. They unsuccessfully tried to persuade Gov. Rick Scott (R) to call a special session to repeal the law, although they drew national attention to their cause and the law in the process.
The CSGV ad debuts one month after President Barack Obama's most recent comments on the Martin shooting and the Zimmerman verdict. "You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son," he said. "Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."