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Apr 14, 2012, 11.42 PM IST | Source: Reuters

Trayvon Martin focus overshadowing other killings: NRA chief

USA-FLORIDA-SHOOTING-NRA:Trayvon Martin focus overshadowing other killings: NRA chief

ST. LOUIS, Missouri (Reuters) - A top executive of the largest U.S. advocacy group for gun owners said o n S aturday that media attention on the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida has unfairly overshadowed a daily stream of other killings in cities across the country.

Speaking at the National Rifle Association's annual meeting, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre criticized media coverage of the shooting of the teenager by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, and coverage of gun issues in general.

"In the aftermath of one of Florida's many daily tragedies, my phone has been ringing off the hook," he said, referring to the Martin case and national media inquiries.

"The National Rifle Association will not comment on any story without a full understanding ... of all the facts," LaPierre said.

He then listed several killings in cities across the country, including one in St. Louis this week that he said have been ignored as the media focused on the Martin case.

"You reporters, you don't care about those people," he said of the other victims.

The Trayvon Martin case has focused national attention on so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws in a number of states that provide broader grounds to claim a shooting was in self-defense.

Police in Florida initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, citing the state's law allowing the use of deadly force when a person feels threatened. A special prosecutor earlier this week charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

The NRA has been the chief backer of Stand Your Ground laws. Versions of these laws, also referred to as the "Castle Doctrine" because they allow citizens to use force protect their homes, are in effect in 30 states including Florida.

At the NRA annual meeting on Saturday, the organization celebrated its success in passing the laws, showing a video to the membership of a young mother in Oklahoma, Sarah McKinley, who shot dead a knife-wielding home invader on New Year's Eve.

Authorities decided not to charge her, citing the state's law allowing the use of force in self defense.

"We always as members of the NRA Stand our Ground," LaPierre said.

(Reporting By Greg McCune; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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