Controversial may be an understatement when it comes to describing "stand your ground."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has taken his stand on the law, saying in part,
"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. By allowing and perhaps
encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws
undermine public safety. The list of resulting tragedies is long and -
unfortunately - has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our
collective obligation - 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.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has made a statement,
"I'm fairly sure that there will be somebody in the General Assembly who will ask us to at least revisit and look at the Stand Your Ground legislation that was passed in 2006," Deal said. "I don't see anything out of the ordinary in terms of that statute. It is very similar to the statute in other states, including the state of Florida."
But many of the folks who prosecute cases and have to follow the law are hesitant to say anything at all.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap, who wouldn't take any sides, starting off her comment by saying simply, it's a law of the state of Georgia.
"I don't make the laws," said Heap. "The laws are handed down by the legislature and the Governor, and I have to follow the laws and enforce the laws."
Here's the exact wording for the Georgia and South Carolina laws.
Georgia Senate Bill 396 Section 1 Line 14
"A person who uses threats or force in accordance with Code Section 16-3-21, relating to the use of force in defense of self or others, Code Section 16-3-23, relating to the use of force in defense of a habitation, or Code Section 16-3-24, relating to the use of force in defense of property other than a habitation, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and use force as provided in said Code sections, including deadly force."
South Carolina Legislation Section 16-11-440 Section C
"A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in another place where he has a right to be, including, but not limited to, his place of business, has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily injury to himself or another person or to prevent the commission of a violent crime as defined in Section 16-1-60."
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