In 2004, the National Rifle Association honored Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley with an award. Then, he worked closely with the NRA to enact Florida’s then-unprecedented “stand your ground” law, which allows citizens to use deadly force if they “reasonably believe” their safety is threatened in public settings, reports the Center on Public Integrity. Florida’s law is under a cloud as a result of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 17. The 28-year-old shooter, George Zimmerman, who was licensed to carry a gun, said he acted in self-defense after a confrontation with Martin.
Baxley contends that his law shouldn’t shield Zimmerman because he pursued Martin. The NRA is silent on the issue, but its silence contrasts with its history of activism on stand-your-ground legislation. Since the Florida measure passed, the NRA has flexed its considerable muscle and played a crucial role in the passage of more than 20 similar laws nationwide. The Florida law is rooted in the centuries-old English common-law concept known as the “Castle Doctrine,” which holds that the self-defense right is accepted in one’s home. The Florida law and others like it expand that to venues beyond a home. “This train keeps a rollin’ — Castle Doctrine Sweeps America,” an NRA message said in 2006. he campaign, the group said, “is turning focus from criminals’ rights to those of the law-abiding who are forced to protect themselves.”