August 20, 2013

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has released an ad using the 911 recordings of the Trayvon Martin shooting as the basis for a visual re-enactment. It is visceral and chilling. I physically recoiled at the point where the shot rang out as if I were standing right beside the woman on the phone.

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.

As much as I wish there was a way to make the point without actually having to shock people into getting it, I have to say this ad is effective and right on par with the kind of Shock Doctrine-level pro-gun ads we see from the NRA. It's about time we started fighting this war on the same battleground instead of pretending the high road will get us there. It won't, and the NRA wouldn't bat an eye at running an ad with the same visceral qualities and an opposite message.

The CSGV has a website and a petition urging state lawmakers to repeal Stand Your Ground laws. It's a start.

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