As a parallel, Webster offered the "Draconian" drug sentencing laws of the 1980s, which hugely expanded incarceration rates, were outrageously expensive and did little to improve public safety. Yet, the country is only now examining those laws and considering their repeal.
"I assume, in part, that's because the people who passed them are no longer there," Webster said.
The trickiest factor, however, is that proponents and opponents of "stand your ground" can find in the Zimmerman case assertions to support their beliefs, he said.
One side believes Martin attacked Zimmerman, and Zimmerman had no choice but to fire his weapon to defend himself. The other side believes Zimmerman racially profiled Martin, followed him against a dispatcher's order and then shot a teen who was only reacting, perhaps out of fear, to being followed.
"You can find whatever you want to back your assumptions," Webster said.
Putting on his gun policy expert hat, Webster said he felt the laws are a "very bad idea," and they don't do what they were intended to do: deter criminals and protect the citizenry.
Doubts about 'stand your ground'
After Florida expanded its "Castle Doctrine" laws to a "stand your ground" provision in 2005, the National District Attorneys Association released a report. It said a "diminished sense of public safety" after 9/11, a lack of confidence in the criminal justice system's ability to protect victims, a perception that due process trumps victims' rights and a decrease in gun legislation spurred the creation of "stand your ground" laws.
The study cited concerns from law enforcement officials, including doubts that it would deter criminals.
"There must be appreciation among the would-be criminals that deadly force can be used against them, leading to a change in criminal behavior," the study said. "Unfortunately, attendees at the National District Attorneys Association symposium expressed little confidence that criminals would take the provisions of the Castle Doctrine into consideration before committing a crime."
Webster pointed to a Texas A&M University study examining crime in more than 20 states that passed Castle Doctrine or "stand your ground" laws from 2000 to 2010. Researchers found that not only was there no decrease in robbery, burglary and aggravated assault, but there was an percent spike in reported murders and non-negligent manslaughter.
"The data are pretty compelling, showing that it increased justifiable homicides, and it increased homicides overall," Webster said. "In all likelihood, it really led to more altercations similar to the Zimmerman-Martin exchange."
Additional protests this weekend
The Zimmerman verdict has been met by strong reactions.
A national "Justice for Trayvon" day is slated for Saturday in 100 cities, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The protesters will call for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
The rallies will take place outside of federal court buildings in cities across the country, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.