In the Year after Trayvon Martin Death, No “Stand Your Ground” Repeals


After Trayvon Martin’s death in Sanford, Fl., one year ago today, the national conversation turned to whether laws allowing armed citizens to “stand your ground” against a perceived threat of bodily harm were causing more harm than good. Not much has changed, CBS News reports. Last Friday, a 19-member task force commissioned by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to study the state’s controversial 2005 self-defense law said it saw no reason to make changes to the statute, which allows citizens to use deadly force in any situation where they have the “presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.”

Since 2005, nearly two dozen states have adopted Florida-style self-defense laws. The language varies by state, although many were written with the help of the National Rifle Association. Most of the measures alter the earlier self-defense laws by eliminating a so-called “duty to retreat,” and allow citizens to meet force with deadly force. What this means, effectively, is that a person who perceives he is in danger of great bodily harm can kill or harm in self-defense even if he could plausibly have escaped the situation. Despite the heated debate after Martin’s death, not a single one of these state laws has been repealed. Criminologist Thomas Blomberg of Florida State University said there was very little empirical evidence about the impact of “stand your ground” to help the Florida task force. “What was fundamentally missing was a sober, objective analysis of the history of these laws, and the cases that have been adjudicated since their enactment,” he says.

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