Stand your ground laws under attack nationally as a result of Zimmerman verdict
Although Florida’s “stand your ground” self-defense law was a total non-factor in the George Zimmerman trial, similar laws around the country have now become targets for individuals who are unhappy with the verdict in that case.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder even told the NAACP last week that he believes stand your ground laws “senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.”
But public opinion does not currently appear to be on Holder’s side.
According to a Rassmussen survey released today, Americans tend to favor stand your ground laws, although roughly half of those surveyed were not sure if their state already has such a law in place and were unsure whether or not such a law is good for public safety.
According to the survey, forty-five percent (45%) of Americans favor having a stand your ground law in their state while thirty-two percent (32%) are opposed to such a law. Twenty-two percent (22%) are undecided, leaving a good bit of room for both sides to win over a sizable chunk of the population.
Over half the states, including Alabama, have adopted some form of the Castle Doctrine, which says that a person is not obligated to retreat when their home is being attacked. Alabama and other states have gone a step further and removed the duty to retreat from other lawfully occupied locations.
As Yellowhammer reported earlier this month, Alabama’s stand your ground law has recently been a key component in several high profile cases around the state.
“I’m glad we have the Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws,” Alabama State Representative Barry Moore, one of the legislature’s most vocal gun rights advocates, told Yellowhammer when interviewed for our previous story on Alabama’s law. “Alabamians should always be able to defend themselves legally. Since taking control of the legislature in 2010, the Republican majority has made sure Alabama has the strongest Second Amendment protections in the country.”
The effect stand your ground laws have on crime rates has been a hotly discussed topic among the research commnunity in recent years. The latest University of Chicago Press publication of “More Guns, Less Crime” stated that adoption of the Castle Doctrine reduced murder rates by 9 percent and overall violent crime by 11 percent.
On the flip side, a Texas A&M economics professors found that Stand Your Ground laws increased the homicide rate while only being a minor deterrent to crime. However, this study used data that did not stipulate whether or not a homicide was “justified” as a result of self-defense.
With a staunchly conservative legislature and governor in Alabama, our state’s stand your ground laws are in no danger of being weakened any time soon.
But what do you think? Do stand your ground laws make people more or less safe?
Other Rasmussen polls today show that 61% expect health care in the U.S. to get worse over the next two years, 47% approve of Obama’s job performance and only 19% of Americans rate the economy as good or excellent. Rasmussen’s stand your ground laws poll surveyed 1,000 adults. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.
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