Martin Bashir | April 12, 2012
>>> george zimmerman made his first appearance today in court with his attorney. a brief exercise which set his next court date for may 29th . zimmerman who had been in hiding turned himself in on wednesday. he faces a potential life extension on a second-degree murder charge in the killing of the unarmed tarnlg, trayvon martin, six weeks ago. today his lawyers said he looks forward to the facts coming out in court.
>> obviously it was a horrible intersection of two young men's lives. and it ended in tragedy. we have to figure out how it hampden. why it happen. and who might be responsible for it.
>> the developments mark a turning point in a case that has sparked a nationwide conversation about race and also about florida 's stand your ground law which allows someone to use deadly force anywhere that they feel threatened. it is one of 25 such laws that have sprung up around the country. fiercely promoted by the national rifle association . and indeed, that very group begins its annual meeting today in st. louis, missouri. registration is just underway, we understand, with mitt romney , rick santorum , roy blount , even rick perry all set to attend tomorrow. in the morning, attendees can hit the wall of guns raffle. the pyramid air gun range. or attend the firearms law seminar including topics such as how to help a client who has been disqualified from gun ownership . with me now here in new york is jamie floyd, an attorney and managing editor of the global world report . and back with me, david corn . if i can start with you, jamie , were you surprised that mr. zimmerman 's attorney did not seek bail for his client today?
>> i was but i think, martin, i've just fallen prey to everyone, the same thing everyone else has. i was listening to the media reports and we heard that he would be asking for bail so i quite expected it and then didn't. i will expect he will do so at the hearing in may. as we learned, open discovery. there will be a lot of information forthcoming to the defense in this case where it might not be in other states. once he gets more information, he'll be able to do a lot more with this case and perhaps he'll ask for bail. this may be a case where mr. zimmerman doesn't want to be out. as he whole lot safer there behind bars than he is out on his own. although he can assist in his defense a lot more if he is out. because he can cooperate with his attorneys if he is free to see them at his will.
>> we know that this case will in some way pivot on this issue of stand your ground .
>> almost entirely at the beginning.
>> so how difficult will it be for prosecutors to prove that mr. zimmerman was not doing that?
>> i'm so glad you asked this question. it gives me a chance to clarify something that i said yesterday when i talked about the burden that prosecutors have in this case. this is an affirmative defense . that means that mr. zimmerman will have to show that he was defending himself. and in florida , this requires a stand your ground hearing. a hearing before the judge, before the case ever gets underway, in which mr. zimmerman and his attorneys will try to cloak mr. zimmerman in immunity. it means, you say to the judge, judge, we don't even need to have a trial here. i was acting in self-defense.
>> dismiss the charges.
>> dismiss the charges. there's no case to be had. he may or may not win that. if he does not win and we go to trial, that doesn't mean prosecutors are freed from this burden. self-defense continues to come up even if there is a jury in the box.
>> many people across america are calling for the repeal of florida 's stand your ground law. and hoping to repeal them in other states as wemd earlier. something like 26 of them exist. repealing a law that is strongly backed by the nra , i dare to say, is almost impossible, isn't it?
>> the nra is this gigantic political force within our nation, within our culture. and they've been out there working on this level. and in terms of getting guns back into the people who have lost their rights to own guns, as you talk about earlier. that's one of the seminars at the nra convention. we see them often every couple years when there is a big fight in congress, over, say, the assault weapons ban or cop killing bullets. they've lost a lot of those in the '90s under the bill clinton years. they've been at the state level on all these things, on conceal carry laws. bringing guns to national parks . bringing guns into bars. bringing guns into churches. whatever. and it is hard to fight them in 50 states . the gun control groups just don't have the same clout or the same amount of political dollars that they have.
>> okay. tomorrow we're going to see mitt romney , rick santorum , newt gingrich and a who's who of other republican leaders telling at the convention and they'll decry the president as their bogeyman. yet the reality is, you and i know this president has done absolutely nothing in relation to guns.
>> i tell you, i get an e-mail a day or every other day from some right wing group saying that barack obama is just a nano second away from taking your gun from you. and there is no reason to believe this. he has not made -- gun control advocates wanted more from him after the tragic tucson shooting to take this up as a policy matter and he has declined. it has had bad politics for democrats over the last few years. it's been very hard for them to win on this front. & david makes the point following the shooting of gabby gifford, there was an expectation or a demand and nothing.
>> i worked on the brady bill . i worked on the assault weapons ban . those were clinton administration initiatives and laws. since then, much of what happened in those laws had been gutted. they had sunset provisions. with all due respect to the obama administration, the priorities have been elsewhere. as david points out, highly politically detrimental for any democrat or obviously, republican, who might want to take that on. a handgun of the sort used in this case is intended for one purpose and that is to kill people. this isn't about hunting. unless you're hunting people. and so it is incredible to me that they're having this convention in the midst of this nationally discussed tragedy of trayvon martin. and i do wonder what they'll be saying tomorrow, martin.
>> look at the gabby gifford case. one of the reasons was the magazine which is not used again for hunting. it is a gun nuts preferred choice of ammo. we couldn't really have much of a debate over even legislating the sales of those.
>> david corps and jamie floyd.