WH: Trayvon Martin Case Should Prompt Examination of Current Laws, 'Gun Violence'

Fred Lucas | July 16, 2013 | 4:35pm EDT
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Trayvon Martin (AP Photo/Martin Family, File)

(CNSNews.com) – The Trayvon Martin case is reason to examine whether existing laws help prevent or worsen the problem of "gun violence," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.

“Right now, the president views this as a tragedy, the loss of a young person, for his family, for the community and for the country, and it’s a reflection of the tragedy that we see daily when we see young victims of gun violence lose their lives,” Carney told reporters.

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“He urges upon all communities to examine what we can do and to reflect upon what we can do to bring our communities closer together, to consider what we can do to prevent these kinds of tragedies from happening in the future, and to reduce gun violence in general and to look at our laws and to examine of those laws that we have serve to reduce gun violence or in some cases inadvertently make the problem worse,” Carney continued.

“That’s been his view, and that’s why he pursues and continues to pursue common sense measures to prevent gun violence,” he said.

On Saturday, a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder. Zimmermann, 29, admitted to shooting and killing the 17-year-old Martin, but said it was in self-defense.

“When the president spoke about this in the early days, he made a very personal statement that I think that goes to some of what you’re asking about, and that is that if President Obama had a son, that that son would look like Trayvon Martin,” Carney said. “In saying that, he was reflecting in a personal way his understanding of the pain that Trayvon Martin’s parents were experiencing then and obviously have experienced ever since and pain that they are experiencing in the wake of the verdict.”

Obama issued a written statement on Sunday in response to the jury verdict in which he talked about the case in the context of gun violence.

“I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son,” Obama said. “And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.”

Carney sought to frame his statements in a broad context, beyond the case, saying, “Obviously the Justice Department is continuing to look into” the Martin case.

Carney was later asked if he was speaking about Florida’s “stand your ground law,” that says a person may justifiably use force in self-defense if there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat.

Carney declined to cite a law, but said conversations would happen at the state level and the president had a role to play.

“It is worthwhile to look at the laws that we have at the state level and consider them through the prism of gun violence and ask whether or not they are improving the situation with regards to gun violence or inadvertently making that situation worse,” Carney said.

“I’m not judging any particular law here; I’m saying that at the state level, since that is where these laws are written and passed or overturned, that is where the conversation would take place,” he said.

“It’s been an incredibly busy year, but I’d say that this year demonstrates that he has a role in advancing the cause of commonsense measures that reduce gun violence,” Carney added.

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