Gov. Mark Dayton, who vetoed a "Stand Your Ground" law that would have expanded the definition of self-defense and the use of lethal force by civilians, said the Trayvon Martin case in Florida has further convinced him that such laws are not needed.
He commented on the acquittal last weekend of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed the 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla., in February of 2012. Florida has a law similar to the one Dayton vetoed, although it is not clear that it figured into Zimmerman's successful claim of self-defense.
"Whether we agree or disagree with the decision, we have to carry on," Dayton said, in his first comments on the case. "We have to learn from the mistakes of the past -- learn that these kinds of laws that are supposedly empowering citizen vigilantes to take matters in their own hands have catastrophic effects."
Dayton vetoed a bill backed by the National Rifle Association and passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2012. Current Minnesota laws provide for reasonable self-defense, he said.
"People have a right to defend themselves," he said at a brief news briefing after a speech in St. Paul. "They have a constitutional right to bear arms. But they have to do so responsibly, and they have to do so with respect for the lives of others."
Dayton said he could not say whether the not-guilty verdicts were correct under Florida law. "My personal opinion -- I don't have all the information the jury had -- Mr. Zimmerman went way beyond what was necessary in the situation," he said.
"You have a right under Minnesota law, if you're threatened in your own home, or on your own property, and you have serious and credible reason to believe your life is in danger, to use force to resist that," he said.
Under "Stand Your Ground" laws, he said, there could be "more severe penalties in Minnesota for shooting somebody else's dog in your backyard than there would be ... for shooting a human being."
"We have to use common sense here," he added. "People have a right to protect themselves. On the other hand, we have a sanctity of life that I think we all believe in."
More from Star Tribune
More from Hot Dish Politics
A DFL challenger in a key legislative race faces the prospect of a campaign finance violation hearing just a month before the November election.
Gov. Mark Dayton continued his push for clean water Tuesday at the State Fair by calling Minnesotans to take a "stewardship pledge" as part of the state's "Year of Water Action."
GOP poll: Paulsen ahead of Bonoff, lots of undecided voters
Amid reports that Donald Trump was in danger of not getting on Minnesota's presidential ballot, the Trump campaign says everything is in order and voters will have a chance to cast their ballot for him in November.
The Minnesota Jobs Coalition, a Republican allied political group, has alleged violations of campaign-finance law by a DFL House candidate and a former DFL state legislator.
Recommended For You
Here's a quick look at the Vikings’ quarterback situation, under the assumption — and it is only an assumption — that Bridgewater is out of action for a while.
Theo Olson, who was suspended for two weeks without pay this spring after a district investigation, reached agreement with the district to step down on Aug. 18.
Gene Wilder, the frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable roles as the neurotic accountant in "The Producers" and the deranged animator of "Young Frankenstein," has died. He was 83.
After saying he was leaving Apple Valley for Findlay Prep in Nevada, Trent Jr. has decided to play for a California program instead.
Bridgewater's knee injury short-circuits promising season
Recommended For You
It's fair to debate whether we've struck the right balance between press freedom and the rights of those defamed.
Concerns across political spectrum of legal experts.
Revisions improved it, but bill still overly restricts public access.
Mississippi's governor signed a law Tuesday allowing religious groups and private businesses to deny services to gay and transgender people — echoing attempts made in other states with varying levels of success following last year's Supreme Court ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Little Falls man serving life in prison for killing two teenage intruders at his home in 2012. "We're not done. We are far from it," his attorney said after the decision.