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The 24 States That Have Sweeping Self-Defense Laws Just Like Florida’s

Charting expansive “stand your ground” laws like the one at the center of the Trayvon Martin case.

Civil rights leaders and residents of Sanford, Fla., attend to a town hall meeting March 20, 2012, to discuss the death of a 17-year-old, unarmed black teen, Trayvon Martin, who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain on Feb. 26 in Sanford. Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

March 26: This post has been updated to reflect the latest in the ongoing investigation of the shooting, and corrected.

"Stand Your Ground," "Shoot First," "Make My Day" -- state laws asserting an expansive right to self-defense -- have come into focus after last month's killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person's right to use deadly force for self-defense. Deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened, in the home or "any other place where he or she has a right to be."

Most states have long allowed the use of reasonable force, sometimes including deadly force, to protect oneself inside one's home -- the so-called Castle Doctrine. Outside the home, people generally still have a "duty to retreat" from an attacker, if possible, to avoid confrontation. In other words, if you can get away and you shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. In Florida, there is no duty to retreat. You can "stand your ground" outside your home, too.

If self-defense is invoked in Florida, the person is immune from criminal or civil prosecution.

In the Martin case, the local police chief has said that they did not arrest the shooter, George Zimmerman, because their initial investigation supported his self-defense claim, and that they were therefore prohibited from making an arrest or prosecution. (The police report on the shooting refers to it as an "unnecessary killing to prevent unlawful act.")

The police chief has since temporarily stepped down, after a vote of no-confidence from the city. The case is being investigated by the Department of Justice and a Florida state attorney. A grand jury will convene on April 10 to decide whether charges can be brought against Zimmerman.

Zimmerman's lawyer said in an interview with ABC News that Zimmerman will be protected under Florida's self-defense law.

In Florida, a homicide case can be thrown out by a judge before trial because the defendant successfully invokes self-defense. The burden is on the prosecution to disprove the claim in order to bring charges, rather than do so in the trial. The Florida state attorney leading the prosecution told ABC news that the self-defense law means it is "more difficult than a normal criminal case" to bring charges.

Florida is not alone in its expansive definition of self-defense. Twenty-four other states now allow people to stand their ground. Most of these laws were passed after Florida's. (Some states never had a duty to retreat to begin with.)

Here's a rundown of the states with laws mirroring the one in Florida, where there's no duty to retreat in public places and where, in most cases, self-defense claims have some degree of immunity in court. (The specifics of what kind of immunity, and when the burden of proof lies on the prosecution, vary from state to state.)

Many of the laws were originally advocated as a way to address domestic abuse cases — how could a battered wife retreat if she was attacked in her own home? Such legislation also has been recently pushed by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups.

Click on the state to see its law.

Alabama

Arizona

Georgia

Idaho

Illinois (The law does not include a duty to retreat, which courts have interpreted as a right to expansive self-defense.)

Indiana

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Michigan

Mississippi

Montana

Nevada

New Hampshire

North Carolina

Oklahoma

Oregon (Also does not include a duty to retreat.)

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Washington (Also does not include a duty to retreat.)

West Virginia

Sources: Legal Community Against Violence; National District Attorney’s Association; Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

Correction: This post has been corrected to include New Hampshire in the list of states with laws that are similar to Florida's.

Papa John Philo

March 22, 2012, 2:43 p.m.

This is the laziest so-called investigative reporting we’ve seen yet from ProPublica (or should we rename it ProSocialista)

There is no “rundown of the state laws”—there is just a list of links to state laws, which if we read far enough into those links—include relevant self-defense passages. There is no indication your staff reviewed annotated statutes of those states to determine which (you claimed “most”) were adopted after Florida’s was codified in 2005.

Your report makes no distinction between defense of person, property or domicile, or other important nuances of the various laws that would actually inform the public what are their rights under the various laws. No, the sole purpose of this political advertorial is to tell us which way we should lean when voting in elections - we should lean toward those politicians who express opposition to “stand your ground” laws - no matter whether the body to which we’re electing them has any say in a particular law. The point of your story is to tell us to vote against the NRA without taking into consideration the particulars of any law that might effect us.

Above all, we’re encouraged not to take into account the particulars of the Florida case. What is missing from the accounts is what happened at the moment the shooter fired? Did the shooter push the victim then shoot him as we would be led to believe from the victim’s girlfriend’s “ear witness” account? Or could the sound have been the victim pushing at the shooter? We’re not getting critical details of this story, but we’re getting a lot of Al Sharpton-style rhetoric.

No surprise to see Propublica jump into the fray and parrot the liberal BS about this law, filling the airwaves and internet with so much misinformation.

“A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”

Force with force being the key phrase here. This means if someone punches you, you can punch them back without fear of being charged with battery, but you most certainly cannot use deadly force on them unless you have a “reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another”. Contrary to the media circus around what constitutes “reasonable fear”, there exists a large body of precedent establishing what is and what is not reasonable:  is there a significant age difference between the two parties, prior knowledge of violent behavior on behalf of the assailant, physical size differences, if the defender was outnumbered, are both parties armed, etcetera.

If local prosecutors are not pressing charges because the person might claim self defense, even when such a claim under Florida Law as is the case with Zimmerman would be specious, then they are being lazy and are not doing their jobs. But don’t blame the law for lazy prosecutors.

“Stand Your Ground” does keep your eye on the life threatening situation. 23 states prefer to keep citizens safe. Great article for an American. Simple personal privacy helps stop certain reactions.
Clear education of both participants is required in any life threatening encounter.

Papa John Philo I agree…In fact there are now 27 states that support an expanded castle doctrine Pennsylvania being one of them that is NOT on the list above. 


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett signed the state’s Castle Doctrine legislation into law on last week (June 2011), making PA the 27th state to permit law-abiding citizens to use force, including deadly force, against an attacker in their home and any place they have a legal right to be. It also protects individuals from civil lawsuits by an attacker or attacker’s family when force is used. The bill passed in the state House in a 164-37 vote and in the state Senate, 43-4.
         
The NRA has spearheaded the nationwide movement to pass Castle Doctrine legislation, beginning with Florida in 2005.
         
Key elements of the bill include allowing people to use deadly force, without first retreating, not only on their own property, but outside their homes or businesses or anywhere in public if they are accosted.

http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/gun-shots/2011/07/pennsylvania-becomes-27th-state-pass-castle-doctrine-legislation

The problem is not with the “stand your ground law” the problem is with the authorities who used this law as justification for why a man with a loaded gun pursued this young man and provoked a confrontation.

The problem is not with the “stand your ground law” the problem is with the authorities who used this law as “justification” for why a man with a loaded gun pursued this young man and provoked a confrontation was not brought before a grand jury.  He was told by the police not to follow.  What is the reason he gave for leaving his car and approaching the young man?

I have no way of getting into the mind of the shooter to know if he harbored racial hate or bias before or during the shooting.  What I think is at issue is why he put himself in possible harms way (in his mind) in confronting this young man after having contacted the police and being told not to follow him.  Did not read anything about the young man approaching his vehicle and creating fear of assault.

Block watch should be about armed confrontation, only ‘watching’ and alerting the police - which he did.  There’s no indication that some unlawful act was about to be committed against any person or property.

An unnecessary manslaughter.

So, only women are not supposed to be raped, no matter what?

Philosophical and ideological arguments have little legislative influence in a society in which Legislators accept significant amounts of money and gifts from lobbyists , with this issue and other issues . Thank you .

This is a case of premeditated murder, not self defense, as the shooter alleged.  The fact that he ignored a police order not to pursue the victim, instead left his vehicle, armed, stalked the victim, provoke a physical confrontation at which point the lad attempted to defend himself, and was shot and killed be the perpetrator of this heinous crime, should put to shame every law abiding citizen in the country.  The incident bears all the marks of a racially motivated killing, and should be judged accordingly.  The local police failed to perform due diligence in the pursuant followup “investigation” and are equally culpable dereliction of duty in the incident, for which they should be held accountable.

It’s a mockery to believe that self defense is in any way related to this.

The alleged shooter initiated the contact, followed the boy after being told not to by authorities and then killed him when he claims to have been threatened.

I am white and let’s face it. If a black man had killed a young white boy under these circumstances, he would be in jail. And he would belong there.

If a black child ventures outdoors unarmed, he should expect to be shot dead.  That is what America is all about.

After reading some of the comments, I must at least say this: Zimmerman was not given an order not to follow. He was asked not to follow by the 911 operator, but he had no legal obligation to actually do what he was told. He was wrong in what he did, yes, but it wasn’t like an order from a police officer or something like that.

And I also agree with Papa John in this case. There is not enough information given on these laws here for my tastes. It seems like the article is trying to tell me what my opinion should be in regards to the propriety of these laws. Not that I expect everything to be set at my feet, though I would have loved to have had more information than what I was given here. I personally don’t see how those laws should apply to this case. I can see the basis of the argument, but from the information given out by the media this doesn’t fly as a self-defense case. Zimmerman followed Martin in his car, got out of his car, and then fought with Martin when he tried to physically restrain Martin. With that information, it sounds like Martin was defending himself and not Zimmerman.

The pathetic creature who murdered an innocent boy was one of the species of inadequate human beings who seek validation of their miserable selves by “volounteering” to patrol gated communities, for example.

He’s as guilty as sin, but the white supremicists who post above will twist the facts to justify their own paranoia.

As a person with certain liberal leanings (including the Bill of Rights - remember Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly?) who can’t afford to live on an island enclave or Westport, Conn. - I DO NOT believe that I or my family should or must retreat in the face of clear and present threat of bodily harm or death. In your home, that often works out to 10 feet or less. The last thing I would EVER want to do is shoot anybody. Wait - make that bury a family member who was wounded or killed by one of those extremely nasty people we see too frequently.

So what you’re saying, is that the kid could have shot first and would not have committed a crime in doing so?

Want to bet whether charges would have been laid in that case?

No requirement about probable cause or anything else, it’s all about shooting first and not worrying about the law later.  That’s crazy talk.

There is one part of the Indiana statute that was conveniently skipped…“REASONABLE” force. The force has to be enough to stop the person, but not more. That is an important distinction.

I do not have all the facts concerning this Florida case, so I cannot stand in judgment.

I do know we have a second amendment right and in places like Chicago where this right has been suppressed vigorously by an out of control government we have out-of-control shootings daily.

Gang bangers do not respect my rights nor the innocent people around them and the government is ineffective.  I would prefer a system that allows me to protect myself and my family and understand always there is a possibility of mistake that is always terrible tragedy.

Constitution of the second amendment are there for a reason!

Walter D.Shutter, Jr.

March 22, 2012, 7 p.m.

I have been trying to make sense of this story and I keep coming up empty.  After reading the Propublica article I clicked on the link to the extensively redacted Sanford PD police report. 
Propublica wonders why Zimmerman was not arrested.  Police Report (PR) says Zimmerman was placed in handcuffs, his injuries treated, and transported to the Sanford PD department.  Sounds like an arrest to me.  Question:  If Zimmerman was not arrested, then where is he now? Is he tying up tomato plants in his backyard garden?  Where are the paperatzzi(sp?) photos? Seems to me that is a question that any news organization would have an interest in answering.  Maybe the media does not know the difference between an arrest and an indictment.  Maybe they don’t care about facts that don’t advance the narrative. Who knows?  We know that the media narrative is all about how the castle doctrine and stand your ground laws(which generally extend the castle doctrine to anywhere you have a legal right to be) provide us racist bitter clingers with the legal cover to whack minorities.
Here are facts:  Presently, 27 States recognize the castle doctrine AND have a “stand your ground” statute on the books.  Almost ALL of the states at least recognize the castle doctrine.  But here are two place that don’t:  New York State and the District of Columbia.  Go figure.
I don’t want to live there.  Do you?

I only gather my information from the media, however, this case does not seem “right”. Something is definitely wrong here. First of all, whatever happened to equal force- if you punched a cop in the face, that doesnt justify him shooting you!” EQUAL FORCE”. I really dont know all the facts, because I wasnt present and I dont live in Sanford Florida, but I do know if this happened in Jersey, he’d be charged with 1st degree murder. That is without a doubt! There is a very strong possibility that this incident was racially motivated. I am half PuertoRican, half white and just because he is half spanish does not mean it wasnt racially motivated. That sounds like BS.

I only gather my information from the media, however, this case does not seem “right”. Something is definitely wrong here. First of all, whatever happened to equal force- if you punched a cop in the face, that doesnt justify him shooting you!” EQUAL FORCE”. I really dont know all the facts, because I wasnt present and I dont live in Sanford Florida, but I do know if this happened in Jersey, he’d be charged with 1st degree murder. That is without a doubt! There is a very strong possibility that this incident was racially motivated. I am half PuertoRican, half white and just because he is half spanish does not mean it wasnt racially motivated. That sounds ridiculous.

I believe the law states “defending oneself” in some form, so what exactly was Zimmerman defending himself from—Skittles?

Papa John Philo

March 23, 2012, 2:34 a.m.

Odd, but I thought supremacists had the market cornered on zanny theories of the human species. It’s curious how our concern for the way facts are reported somehow makes us “white supremacists” in the narrative of one who wrote about a “pathetic creature (who is) one of the species of inadequate human beings who seek validation of their miserable selves”

It appears some on the left has some of it’s own theories on who is a proper member of the species and who is sub-human, but we already knew that, didn’t we?

I suppose I’m a supremacists because I think the watch captain would as well have shot a kid for walking while teen as for walking while black. You know, there are parts of the world where we call teens “fighting aged males” and they’re fair targets for military gunfire. U.S. gunfire - by other teens—if you must know, but also from helicopter gunships or Humvee mounted 50 cal.

And I’m a supremacist to ask if a teen (no matter the ethnic background) might be inclined to push when he thinks he’s in the right and being improperly confronted. But that’s only because I was routinely rousted for walking while teen and I know how widespread the “crime” of being teen happens to be.

A few clean-up responses, since ProPublica’s staff is too busy spinning tomorrow’s news to the left to bother interacting with the crowd that sources their content.—

@Walter D.Shutter, Jr. no, being handcuffed does not comprise arrest. Conjuncture that “the media does not know the difference between an arrest and an indictment” falls flat. 

Jurisprudence is unique to each jurisdiction, so what comprises a charge varies with the jurisdiction. Arrest is usually related to a criminal charge, but not always an indictment. An indictment is usually handed down by a grand jury. An officer can arrest a person on a warrant issued after an indictment was handed down or when there is probable cause to believe a crime was committed. In that case, either the officer or a prosecuting attorney will later either file charges or release the person. A person may be arrested and later released with no charges filed for various reasons—typically if there is insufficient evidence to support charges. Arrest almost always begins with a variation of the phrase “I’m placing you under arrest…”

An entirely different circumstance often mistaken for arrest is detention. Defense attorneys will call it arrest, but police and prosecutors usually disagree. Detained persons may be handcuffed (“for your safety and mine” says the officer), confined to a patrol car and occasionally transported and held in custody, all without being arrested. The legal difference can be quite fuzzy, but procedurally, differences typically include not being read one’s rights and not being booked into a jail facility. However, a drunken person might be detained for “detox” and released the next day—usually after sleeping it off in a holding cell. They are often released without being booked and technically—unless you’re a defense attorney—they’ve not been arrested. A person can be detained for psychological evaluation, as a material witness or even as a “person of interest” without being arrested or charged with a crime.

An entirely different set of circumstances arises when a person is identified in connection with a matter than might or might not be a crime. The person might be detained, identified and released pending further investigation. That’s what happened with the shooter in this matter. A grand jury could later indict or, depending on how Florida’s law works, another agency could file charges without a grand jury.

Marissa Miller

March 23, 2012, 7:30 a.m.

You mean my son could have shot that Florida police officer that tazed him because he was standing his ground by not taking off a NY yankees hat. Damn, I wish he had known that, with a black eye, and slash down his face later.

Wait, lets all step back and look at what the real problem is. The local PD should have set guidelines for Neighborhood Watch patrols. First they should have gone through some sort of training. Second, the PD should have stated that Firearms are prohibited on Neighborhood Watch patrols because they are ONLY AN EXTRA PAIR OF EYES for the police. They are not to persue or make citizen arrests. Florida’s Concealed Weapons permit guidlines make this clear, that the permit one can not carry everywhere.

Zimmerman was looking for trouble and he got what he asked for a notch in his belt. There is no reason to pursue a innocent person unless he or she has committed a crime. Guns should be left in the proffessional hands with good judgement.

Most of the comments certainly have it more right than the very unfocused article.  Self defense doesn’t—can’t—include pursuit.

If the state doesn’t prosecute, it’s the failure of the police and the District Attorney, not anything in the law.  Only an idiot would accept chasing someone as a defensive action as opposed to provocation.

That said, and while I don’t believe in gun control (especially in an era where SWAT-equipped cops will beat down an old woman’s door on “a tip,” but can’t be bothered to do anything about gang encroachment and the courts have ruled that the cops have no duty to save anybody’s life), I do believe that every weapons-related incident should involve arrest and prosecution to make sure the action was justifiable.  But I suppose asking laws surrounding weapons in an increasingly authoritarian society to be sensible is just asking for ridicule.

I feel deep regret that Trayvon’s last moments alive were so deeply gruesome.

Several places on the internet write the stand your ground law was written by ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council - the infamous Koch funded legislation ghost writing lobby group.

Mother Jones http://motherjones.com/politics/2012/03/what-happened-trayvon-martin-explained#koch

AMERICAblog http://www.americablog.com/2012/03/whos-behind-nras-stand-your-ground.html

The rich can do whatever they want and get away with it because they have found a way to buy the legislators at every level of government.

What do the Koch Brothers want? Why is it ok in America to promote laws that seem to encourage insupportable behavior?

Thanks for all the comments.

Just to clarify—it is not clear that the Florida law will be successfully used in the Trayvon Martin case. As many have pointed out, the facts on the ground are still not solid. We don’t know that self-defense, (or under self-defense, meeting “force with force”) applies to George Zimmerman’s acts.

However, it was invoked by Florida officials as the reason they had not yet prosecuted Zimmerman. For that reason, we thought it was worth looking into.

As for the varying counts of states with stand-your-ground laws—it’s a spectrum. We limited ours to states that are very similar to Florida’s—ie., that impose no duty to retreat from any public place. There are others that impose no duty to retreat outside the home, cars or places of employment. Pennsylvania was a close call, but under its no duty to retreat clause it specifies that “the person against whom the force is used displays or otherwise uses: 1) a firearm or replica of a firearm; or 2) any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use.)”

I love Florida’s law concerning self defense. I noticed that the explanation as to what happened doesn’t state what Tavon was doing when the shooting occurred.  Was he threatening the white man? What, if any kind of rap sheet did Tavon have? I’m sick and tired of hearing that so called “innocent” black men are killed. I’ve always noticed that the media NEVER mentions when a white person is the victim of black violence, and this happens every single day in every single large and most medium sized cities. I know.  I’m a retired law enforcement officer who is in touch with other fellow officers throughout the nation. I do not in any way condone murder, but be fair to ALL races. I’m sure that I will be labeled a racist because I believe in fair play for ALL races, even for whites who never ever get coverage from the liberal media despite being victims of black violence every day.

I take offense to the way this is framed:
“In Florida, once self-defense is invoked, the burden is on the prosecution to disprove the claim.” (the emphasis on disprove seems to have gotten lost in my copy/paste)

Naturally this is true because we have decided that the defendant is innocent until proven guilty, thus all burdens of proof must be on the prosecution.

Travel advisories should be issued for these states…they are infinitely more dangerous than states that don’t have these horrible laws.

Also…I plan to boycott these states as much as possible…I’d rather spend my money in safe states.

I was wondering where the National Rifle Assn. stands on Trayvon’s death until I read through a few of Papa John Philo’s policy statement, and those of his supporters.  Now I know.

Dead men do not speak. Period. Will I trust my and my family life to be judged by some frustrated idiot? How I look, walk, talk…You can now be judge of anybody’s life in Florida… dead man do not speak. Soon we will have to wear personal armor and guns – for self-defense.

I love these right wing gun enthusiasts who support any gun issue. Have they seen videos of a texas man calling police because he sees someone breaking into his neighbors house. He tells police that he(caller) has a gun and he is going after the man in the house. Police told him to stay out of house and let them handle it. The caller goes into house and shoots intruder. Now the caller PUSUED his life being threatened, not to mention, acting as if he is judge and jury, or police. Having a gun, does not allow you to act like law enforcement and become vigalante killers. This is an out rage. Yes people should first try to run away or else, you WILL BE PROSECUTED. MANSLAUGHTER-VOLUNTARY, PREMEDITATED….. how do you like orange?????

Papa John Philo

March 23, 2012, 2:19 p.m.

Funny, or rather, unfortunate that so many are so unwilling to see anything other than politics in this matter. I’m certainly not a right-winger, and I’m anything but enthusiastic about firearms. I am familiar with rules of engagement in street conflicts. If attacked, I can defend myself. My actions leading up to the attack may or may not have bearing—it depends on whether my actions could be construed as “fighting words.” Following a person walking in a neighborhood, being suspicious of a stranger and approaching a stranger to resolve suspicion are not fighting words.

What surprises me only slightly is how disinterested people are in the facts of this matter. Whether or not Zimmerman followed Martin is probably immaterial. I, along with hordes of Occupy protesters, enjoy the right to go where we please. I enjoy the right to ask you what is your business in my neighborhood, Mr. Banker. What you, Mr. Banker, enjoy, is the right to ask me “why are you following me.” What you, Mr. Banker and your teenaged son of any color, wearing any clothing, do not enjoy is the right to physically accost me. If you think you enjoy that right, and get me on the ground, bloody my nose—even after I followed you to the fast food store to ask what you’re doing in my neighborhood—and cause injuries to the back of my head. If you do get me in that position, if I have a firearm or other deadly weapon, and I feel I have no other options, I might use my weapon.

Police found Zimmerman with a bloody nose, grass stains on his shirt, and an injury on the back of his head. Those however, aren’t the facts that are repeated so often in these politically charged hit pieces. What has been repeated hundreds of times is the fact that Zimmerman - within his rights—followed a man. He’s even within his rights to be suspicious. The salient facts are what happened after—as 911 tapes indicate—Martin asked Zimmerman “why are you following me.” Everything else - especially speculation about the role of race—is entirely that - speculation, sparked by personal grief and fueled by political opportunism.

Papa John Philo

March 23, 2012, 3:02 p.m.

Cori,

After reading your comment, it remains evident to me you are far more concerned with the “stand your ground” aspect of the Zimmerman/Martin shooting than with self-defense laws in general. “Florida officials” as you say, (actually, one—a local police official) initially cited the “stand your ground” aspect of the state’s law, but then cited more broad self defense reasons. You are all-to-willing to say “facts on the ground” (a place you’ve apparently not visited in compiling this report) are unclear without sharing with us how those facts can support Zimmerman’s and the local police’ explanations.

From the luxury of your desk, you’ve not taken time to review FindLaw to see how “stand your ground” has played out in court, and how it has or has not changed the way people handle self-defense situations. In the end, for all the hue-and-cry, this is not even a stand-your-ground story, except that local police first cited that aspect of the broader self defense law. You’ve failed to explain how good-old-fashioned self-defense laws could protect an overweight, ill-prepared homeowner who ended up on his back with a bloody nose for committing the offense of asking a neighbor what’s going on, and not adequately trusting the neighbor who gave them the bloody nose.

As a reporter, you seem to be acting as a provacatuer - promoting an expansive view of what the stand your ground laws allow in hopes that an ill-informed public will fail to understand nuances in self-defense laws, resulting in tragic incidents that will lead to overturn of the law.

A more mature approach would be to sort out who has the right to follow another person on the street( I do), who has the right to approach another person on the street (I do), and what rights we have when we are accosted by a neighbor who didn’t appreciate my following them, or approaching them to resolve my suspicions.  Let’s put it this way—if my neighbor continues to beat his wife, I plan to follow him when he flees the house. If he approaches me on the street and accosts me to ask why I’m following him, then attacks me, I still have the right to defend myself. BTW, my wife-beating neighbor is white as a snow and wears hoodies.

All that matters is that it was a “black” teenager. Nobody would care if it was a white kid or any other race for that matter. I think this whole story is being blown waaay out of proportion. It’s being singled out and becoming a bs race discussion. I mean, being white is like walking on thin ice all the time worrying about your every decision and is it going to be racist. But people like Al Sharpton can get on tv and beat up white people and nobody holds him accountable. It’s ridiculous.

Let me emphasize something: if this happened in New Jersey, where I reside, this jerk-off probably stuck on some power trip would have been arrested from day one. The whole country seems to be infuriated about this incident, so just arrest this guy and put him where he belongs. Furthermore, as a parent, I could not imagine what his parents are going through- THEY DESERVE JUSTICE.

Bill,. you are soooooo far off the mark. One, I agree absolutely with Mike D, as I am in the criminal justice field. He is absolutely correct. Pat G, let me further stress that I am a lifetime NRA member. And this man had no valid reason to shoot this juvenile. I agree with Castle Doctrines. However, this is a very different set of circumstances that what the Castle Doctrine is meant to protect. This man didn’t “stand his gound,” he pursued. The juvenile was not in the commission of a violent felony. This man should absolutely be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It was murder, outright. Not self-defense. Although I am an NRA member and support the Second Amendment, gun crimes do happen. Obviously. This is a clear-cut case of one.

maurizio cirillo

March 24, 2012, 3:02 a.m.

I’m writing from italy,I’ve almost cryed when news was heard on tv,the young boy had the age of my sons and only because his complexion is black he is now dead,I believe this would never been possible to happen here in Europe, the stupid-fanatic-razist killer is not even been arrested,so where is the dignity of a country,where is the so called sense of democracy your politicians are so often willing to tweet round the world???America you made me feel all the sadness,pain is uncurable in me…people of united states look deep inside your soul and say mai più(never more) to this crueltyes .........Mr.President Obama should be walkig behind the coffin crying,so the world should learn that racism is dead and Tryvon Martin is still alive.R.I.P. dear son of us!!

I see all the Shoot First Make My Day people are on this blog. Too bad that we have gotten so pathetic that we get legal permission in several states to shoot people on the street. And if you kill your target you have eliminated the witnesses, they can’t testify that they were not attacking the shooter.

Wayne A. Schneider

March 25, 2012, 12:40 p.m.

I’m curious as to why the police reports say that the time of the report, the time the officer was dispatched, and the time the officer arrived were all Feb 26, 2012 19:17. Did less than one minute really elapse since 9-1-1 was called and police arrived on the scene to find Trayvon Martin dead?  If that is accurate (and I have my doubts, but I could be wrong), it would mean that George Zimmerman couldn’t wait one single minute from the time the dispatcher told him they didn’t need for Zimmerman to follow Trayvon until the time Zimmerman killed him.

George Zimmerman had a broken nose, bruises on his face, a gash in the back of his head, and had grass and dirt on the back of his t-shirt (meaning he was thrown to the ground). Zimmerman was the one crying for help as Trayvon was on top of him punching him in a brutal attack as the witnesses will testify to. What is most terrifying about this case is that the national media and left-wing politicians are going to attack the 2nd Amendment, the Castle Doctrine, and Stand Your Ground Laws and try to use this case to take away a citizens right to self defense.

Steven Langhorst

March 25, 2012, 1:59 p.m.

Can’t the gun lobby trolls stick to relevancy in this case. Simply put an unarmed kid was shot and killed by a gun toteing male. But due to the stand your ground law that states the prosecution must prove that our shooter wasn’t threatened Zimmerman will never be found in violation of said law.
To me the key here is an unarmed teenager was killed for no apparent reason. Aside from the fact he didn’t fit in with the area he was walking in. Think about what that statement means to us as a society? If only he had been in a Freedom Zone.

George Zimmerman had a broken nose, bruises on his face, a gash in the back of his head, and had grass and dirt on the back of his t-shirt (meaning he was thrown to the ground). Zimmerman was the one crying for help as Trayvon was on top of him punching him in a brutal attack as the witnesses will testify to. What is most terrifying about this case is that the national media and left-wing politicians are going to attack the 2nd Amendment, the Castle Doctrine, and Stand Your Ground Laws and try to use this case to take away a citizens right to self defense. Also Trayvon was 6 FEET 3 INCHES TALL! yet the media in their attempts to manipulate this case has only shown pictures of him from when he was between the ages of 8 to 13. Also to all these liberals that demand this law’s repeal if you were having a felony being committed on you or someone you love such as Rape, Robbery, Carjacking, Attempted murder, or Kidnapping and you used force to fend off that attack on yourself or your loved one do you honestly believe you should go to jail and be prosecuted for defending yourself? Answer honestly.

Trayvon was 6 FEET 3 INCHES TALL! yet the media in their attempts to manipulate this case has only shown pictures of him from when he was between the ages of 8 to 13. Also to all these liberals that demand this law’s repeal if you were having a felony being committed on you or someone you love such as Rape, Robbery, Carjacking, Attempted murder, or Kidnapping and you used force to fend off that attack on yourself or your loved one do you honestly believe you should go to jail and be prosecuted for defending yourself? Answer honestly.

I don’t understand where the confusion lies. This clown is obviously using this “law” because he knows he CAN. There was NO SELF DEFENSE. This was CLEARLY an execution of an innocent young man. It never ceases to amaze me how the system loves to hide behind litigation rather than just see the incident for what MOST of AMERICA sees it for. Pull that fool off the streets and let the CELL BLOCK HANDLE HIM. Condolences to the family, i can’t even begin to imagine the pain and frustration you are going through. My prayers are with you all. R.I.P. little man. SHAKIN MY DAMN HEAD!! SAD!!

It looks to me like the northeast is the only place in the country that has any common sense whatsoever.

The laws are in good standing. They are defefensive and everyone has a right morally and ethically to defend themselves. In the Trayvon case in Florida, Zimmerman was pursuing Trayvon, and continued pursuing even after the police (on tape) instructed him not to pursue. That, by definition put Zimmerman in the offense, not defense. This was a cold-blooded, pursuit to harm case. At no point prior to the pursuit was Zimmerman in any defensive situation!! The defender was Trayvon, the law was there to protect him as the defender from the offender. Any idiot with a borderline IQ knows the difference between defense and offense. The chaser is the offender no matter what excuses are attempting to be made. The law is being used as a cover-up. Zimm or his family one has either deep pockets or deep political ties in this case.

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