A year after Florida allowed citizens to use deadly force against muggers, carjackers, and other attackers, the idea is spreading, says USA Today. South Dakota has enacted a similar law, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels plans to sign such a measure today, and 15 other states are considering such proposals. Called “Stand Your Ground” bills by backers like the National Rifle Association, the measures grant immunity from prosecution and lawsuits to those who use deadly force to combat any unlawful entry or attack. Several states allow people to use deadly force in their homes against intruders; the new measures expand self-defense rights to crimes committed in public.
Supporters say the laws are needed in states that require people under attack in public places to withdraw from the situation, rather than retaliate, unless they can show their lives are in danger. Critics say the bills encourage vigilantism and would make it more likely that confrontations would turn deadly. Zach Ragbourn of the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence says the proposals “are more accurately called ‘Shoot First’ laws. They allow a person who just feels something bad is going to happen to open fire in public.”