Public Safety & Justice

AG Eric Holder Slams 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

Attorney General Eric Holder took aim at Stand Your Ground laws Tuesday, saying the measures increase the chance for violence.
July 17, 2013
 

Attorney General Eric Holder took aim at Stand Your Ground laws Tuesday, saying the measures increase the chance for violence.

“These laws try to fix something that was never broken,” Holder said in a previously-scheduled speech to the NAACP convention in Orlando that marked the Obama administration’s first new policy announcement since neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted last weekend in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

“By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety,” he said.

More than 30 states have passed Stand Your Ground laws, which eliminate the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self defense.

The doctrine has long been recognized across the country with respect to home invasions. But the new laws expand the concept — doing away with the duty to retreat in a variety of other venues. The Florida law authorizes an individual to use deadly force as self defense “in any…place he or she has a right to be.”

Holder insisted he wasn’t commenting on the Martin-Zimmerman case, which is under investigation by the Justice Department for a possible federal civil rights prosecution. However, the attorney general made clear that he views the Stand Your Ground measures as unwisely provocative.

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