Journalism in the Public Interest

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.

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Bob Haufler

March 25, 2012, 5:53 p.m.

I am glad I moved to Canada.  I believe there will be more to come.  Very irresponsible and foolish laws, these.

Victor Kearley

March 25, 2012, 6:38 p.m.

At the time Zimmerman made the call to the police and was instructed not to pursue, no confrontation had taken place. The confrontation later reported was after the call and Zimmerman approached Trayvon. The law is issued to protect Trayvon in this matter. Zimmerman was clearly on the “Offensive.”  And in spite of Papa John Philo’s philosophy that he can follow me any where I go and question me is ludicrous. It was Trayvon’s neighborhood also. He lived or visited there by invitation and noone needed Zimmermans or Papa’s permission for him to be there. Even if Trayvon was doing something wrong, Zimmerman’s duty was to contact the authorities to handle the situation, not take it upon himself. He was not a cop, he was not a security gaurd. He was a self-appointed Neighborhood Watch Captain. There is not a neighborhood watch anywhere in this country authorized to use offensive force. It is simply watch and call! It is not anyones right to pursue or question!! It is noones business why I am walking down the street if I am not bothering you, and if you follow me, that puts me in the defensive position, not the pursuer. Had he not been in pursuit, there would have been no contact. I personally dont buy into the race thing. Zim was hispanic, half white.. Look at Trayvon’s coloration, he has white blood in him also. Both bleed red! Bottom line is and no matter how you argue it, Zimmerman was ordered by the police not to follow. Zimmerman continued the pursuit even after that order. When he reached and approached Trayvon, Tray had every right to defend himself against a pursuer he did not know. I am white, I live in Mississippi, as far as I am concerned, race issues are for panzies. Your either American or your something else. Period!! But unlawful pursuit is aggression, offensive.. not a defensive act. Especially when instructed by the authorities not to follow!!

Gil Cedeno

March 25, 2012, 7:48 p.m.

To the idiots who claim that Trayvon was 6’3” tall: I dont know if this is fact or not, but even if it is, clearly Zimmerman is the aggressor. HE WAS TOLD NOT TO FOLLOW THIS ‘ALLEGED SUSPICIOUS PERSON. And he probably had a right to be there. It seems like Trayvon was defending himself, but punching someone does not give you the right to shoot them. Apparently, he is a bleeping coward. “EQUAL FORCE”. If this were Jersey, like Ive already stated, he’d be charged with 1st degree murder and he would lose in trial-undoubtedly. What the bleep is wrong with Florida and the authorities down there?

Tom Mcdaries

March 25, 2012, 7:56 p.m.

We need more Zimmerman’s.There is a reason they call it a gated community. Keep the hell out, if you don’t want to be shot. No one seems to focus on why Zimmerman called 911-???Gated community.
Self defense-very likely. The police have witneses. When the cops arrived, a witness stated that the deceased was on top of Zimmerman pounding him. There were grass stains on Zimmermans back, his head was bleeding, and he had a bloody nose. Message! If you poke around the gated community in the dark there is a good chance Zimmerman will pop up and shoot you to. Don’t jump on Zimmerman and punch him-he’s a crime stopper. We need more citizens to look out for their neighbors. Give him a medal. The green hornet!!


March 25, 2012, 8:37 p.m.

I’m very much in debt to Propublica for identifying the 23 states a home owner can feel safe in.  Using a tragedy like the killing of that poor kid recently is a common tool of the liberals to try and take away freedoms from law-abiding US citizens.

We’ve seen this tactic before.  Socialists cannot have full control until you have no self-defense rights.  I hope there’s more than 23 states with these protections instead of having people in the US stripped of rights to ever own any weapon so we are easy prey to any criminal…or that criminal’s lawyer after defending ourselves..


March 25, 2012, 8:45 p.m.

Hope that thugs across America took notice.  If you assault someone, you are risking your life.  Thank you Mr. Zimmerman for serving notice.


March 26, 2012, 3:32 p.m.

It’s real simple. You cannot pursue and argue self-defense. Especially when you have a gun and the person you pursue is armed with a bag of skittles. It completely defies logic. Now, I saw one person who said it was the police department’s fault for not clarifying the limitations of the neighborhood watch. As a gun owner and NRA member, I believe that the blame lies solely on Zimmerman. The police dispatcher told him not to pursue. Also, The police did not make him decide to begin the situation by bugging a kid coming back from getting candy. Further, the police did not make him shoot an unarmed kid because he wanted to be some kind of bad-ass. What I don’t understand is why the self-defense angle is even being considered. It clearly, for multiple reasons, wasn’t. This case enrages me because it’s people like this that are the reasoning behind legislation designed to curb MY right to own guns. He should be prosecuted for murder, simple. And one more thing…one person mentioned that Zimmerman had injuries. Ummmm, he was following a guy, at night…who was doing nothing wrong…just walking….so yeah, I would fought him if he put his hands on me as well. Because he legally had no right or reason to. I don’t understand why the police aren’t doing their job.

Also, I recommend getting other sources of information on any articles that ProPublica puts out. While I love their work, they often have an “angle.” Verify independently.


March 26, 2012, 6:52 p.m.

I read the comments for and against the circumstances surrounding the Trayvon Martin case. No one mentioned this apartment complex was a gated community. You need a code to access the premises? Trayvon’s father and half brother lived there. Trayvon was not illegally on the property. He had visited his father and was walking back to apartment from the convenience store. Zimmerman, over the course of 1 year, had made over 50 911 CALLS. As far as Zimmerman’s injuries, many of you refer to here, look at the pictures of him when he was taken in for questioning, released by the police. No bruises, no broken nose, nothing. Lastly, this is not about race, in my opinion. This is about a law that allows someone to shoot you,when the other person is not armed, allows you to stalk, get out of your car and follow someone, even when told to not do so by the police. Then allows you to shoot them, claim self defense and get away with it. Even police have to demonstrate they thought their life was in imminent danger to use ‘deadly force.’ Lastly, for those of you who make this about race, I have a simple question. What would you do if any person, of any color, did the same thing to your 17 year old child? Would you then say its justified? Have we become a nation so calloused, prejudiced, stereotypical, hateful, uncaring that we don’t know the difference between murder and self-defense. Remember, this teenager never trailed Zimmerman, never approached him, was not armed, oh…I forgot, he had a soft drink and skittles!!!!!!!!


March 26, 2012, 7:20 p.m.

If you are ASSAULTED, it is legal to defend yourself.  That is why no charges were filed.  Trayvon should not have assaulted Zimmerman.  All would be well if he behaved responsibly.

Gil Cedeno

March 26, 2012, 7:49 p.m.

Rob G- How in the world do you know how Trayvon was behaving stupid? You cant just assume he was misbehaving by info. you gather from the media given by the same jerk-off who shot him. That’s what’s wrong with this world-dumb idiots like you.From what I understand, he belonged in this “gated community”. If it was one of your family members who was shot, I think you would feel differently.

Tony Pelliccio

March 26, 2012, 11:30 p.m.

Rhode Island has Castle Doctrine - I can use lethal force inside my home and I am shielded both from criminal and civil prosecution.

However I cannot chase someone. So Zimmerman is clearly in the wrong.  He ignored an order from the E-911 operator to stop pursuit yet chose to continue. He forfeited any claim to self defense.

John Gunowner

March 27, 2012, 12:57 p.m.

This is why carry laws must go.  Zimmerman represents an unfortunately large portion of the American public that is either angry, racist, xenophobic, poorly educated, or some combination of these poor traits for a human to harbor.  These persons have no right or reason to carry a weapon in public.

You must be highly trained to fly a plane, meet minimum requirements including proof of ability to drive a car, to be a commercial driver or pilot you have an even higher bar.  If someone wants to carry, let them go through the same training, self paid, as a professional security guard must go through.  Carrying a weapon is a immense responsibility.  If you do not want to prove you can be responsible, then keep your gun at home.

These events threaten the rights of those of us that are responsible gun owners.  Those that are serious about gun ownership do not crow in public or online about our guns.  We respect the responsibility of owning a gun and we do so without acting like public circus clowns.

Tina Patterson

March 29, 2012, 11:02 a.m.

This “Stand Your Ground Law”  needs to be changed before more and more people are killed because too many people are trigger happy.  My nephew Braxston Medina 18 years old from Garden City, Kansas was killed 6 months ago by a “friend” when he went to his “friends” house to retrieve some stolen property that his friend had stolen from him, he knocked on the front door then went to the back door and shots were heard from his two friends that were in the vehicle,  nobody but my nephew and the trigger happy kid really knows what happened but our law enforcement took the kids word that he feared for his life.  But yet he can go to my nephews home the previous night and provoke a fight with him, my nephew can text him and tell him he is coming over to get his stolen items and he gets away with MURDER!!!! Just like George Zimmerman????  I pray for the Martin family and hope that they can help change the law.  My family grieves every day for our loss my nephew had big dreams and now they are gone.


March 29, 2012, 2:07 p.m.

I love taking my winter breaks in Florida, but the Stand Your Ground law is game changer.  I do not understand how a state that promotes tourism could pass such a law.  It sounds like something out of the wild West.  I certainly do not feel comfortable returning to Florida.  Disney World is a few minutes from Sandford.  What responsible parent would want to take their child to Orlando and run the risk of being exposed to gun fire.  Bullets do not have names on them.  Bullets that miss the target do not stop.

Paul Bogdanich

March 29, 2012, 11:24 p.m.

You guys are way too intellectual here. The basic effect of these laws is that it is open season on people who don’t look like you and seem threatening.


March 30, 2012, 5:58 p.m.

Nothing wrong with these laws, they were put there for a good reason lets live by them.

Ashley Wilkes

March 31, 2012, 1:51 p.m.

I’ve been watching ALL media coverage of this tragic event. I’m not taking sides. The right wingers spin the “evidence” their way and the left wingers do the same. Few media entities do not spin “evidence”. One issue has been either not mentioned or invalidated: Zimmerman’s short statement during his 911 call, “They always get away.” Another issue of importance I have yet to see discussed in this comment thread is that the “trial by media” is going to make it nearly impossible for Zimmerman to get a fair trial even if he is arrested and charged by the special prosecutor or a grand jury. The vast majority of the many millions following this case not only in the U.S but globally have made up their mind one way or another as to who is the victim and the perpetrator. I’m sure Zimmerman’s defense team is beaming over the ubiquitous and biased media coverage.

lombay swain

April 6, 2012, 12:31 p.m.

I believe that this law is given any of everyone the opportunity to go and kill whoever they want because all you have to say is I was standing my ground


April 17, 2012, 1:55 p.m.

I read through a few of the state laws, and it’s all a bunch of mumbo jumbo.  Why not simply reword them as “Fire at will.”

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