The Washington Post

Majority of Americans approve of stand your ground laws

A majority of Americans approve of the kind of "stand your ground" laws that have come under scrutiny after the verdict in the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows 53 percent of Americans favor such laws, which allow people who feel threatened to respond with deadly force and exist (in some form) in 30 states. Four in 10 Americans (40 percent) disapprove of such laws.

As with many other issues related to the Zimmerman/Martin case, this one splits along racial and political lines.

While 57 percent of whites approve of such laws, just 37 percent of African Americans agree. Hispanics are evenly split, 44 percent in favor and 43 percent against.

Men are also significantly more in support, with 62 percent backing stand your ground laws. Only 44 percent of women support them.

But the biggest split is along partisan lines. While 75 percent of Republicans support such laws, just 32 percent of Democrats do. A clear majority -- 57 percent -- of independents support stand your ground laws.

Democrats have argued in recent weeks that it's time to review stand your ground laws in states where they have passed, and Attorney General Eric Holder has denounced such laws.

While there has been much debate surrounding stand your ground in the Zimmerman case, his defense team didn't actually cite the law in its arguments. It was included, however, in instructions given to the jury.

In a related finding, the poll showed Holder's approval rating rebounding some after some bad headlines related to the Justice Department's surveillance of journalists.

While in May Holder was approved of by 23 percent of Americans and disapproved of by 39 percent, his approval rating has risen 12 points since then, to 35 percent. His disapproval rating remains at 39 percent.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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