Holder condemns ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

Attorney General Eric H. Holder strongly condemned so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws on Tuesday in a speech to the NAACP that addressed the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

The laws “sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods,” Holder said, by “allowing – and perhaps encouraging – violent situations to escalate in public.”More than 30 states, including Florida, have passed “Stand Your Ground” 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.

“We must ‘stand our ground’ to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent," Holder said. "These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the ‘if’ is important – 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 Justice have said it would be difficult, if it's even possible, to do so.

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Manuel Roig-Franzia is a writer in The Washington Post’s Style section. His long-form articles span a broad range of subjects, including politics, power and the culture of Washington, as well as profiling major political figures and authors.
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