Florida shooting renews debate over 'stand your ground' laws
In the months after the Florida Legislature passed a law in 2005 allowing residents to use deadly force to protect themselves no matter where they were, gun-control advocates plastered the state with fliers bearing warnings to tourists.
Be careful, the fliers said. Florida had become a "shoot first" state.
The issue has remained in the news, on and off, ever since, but perhaps never so much as now in the aftermath of the shooting death of an unarmed teen in Sanford, Florida.
A neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, has claimed self-defense in the February 26 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed while walking back to the house of his father's fiancee after a trip to a convenience store.
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Florida's "stand your ground" law appears to be central to the case.
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The law allows people to use deadly force away from their homes -- where such force has long been allowed -- if they have reasonable fear an assailant could seriously harm them or someone else.
It also eliminates a longstanding "duty to retreat" in the face of imminent harm, asserting that would-be crime victims have the right to "stand their ground" and "meet force with force" when attacked as long as they are in a place they have a right to be, are not engaged in unlawful activity and believe that their life and safety was in danger.
It won with the strong endorsement of the National Rifle Association, or NRA, which at the time said it put the law "on the side of law-abiding citizens."