Attorney General Eric H. Holder strongly condemned so-called âStand Your Groundâ laws on Tuesday in a speech to the NAACP that addressed the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
The laws âsow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods,â Holder said, by âallowing â and perhaps encouraging â violent situations to escalate in public.âMore than 30 states, including Florida, have passed âStand Your Groundâ laws, which allow people to defend themselves with deadly force, rather than retreating, if they feel they are in danger or a serious felony is about to be committed.
âWe must âstand our groundâ to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent,"Â Holder said. "These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if â and the âifâ is important â no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely."
Holder once again called Martin's death "unnecessary," a characterization that has given civil rights activists hope that the Justice Department will bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman. But officials at the Department of JusticeÂ have saidÂ it would be difficult, if it's even possible, to do so.