Alabama Stand Your Ground Unlikely To Change

Alabama Stand Your Ground Unlikely To Change

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Pawn shop owner Tom Hand almost always keeps his gun with him.  While he's never had to use "stand your ground"--he says it offers him some protection.

"I believe it is a comforting thought to know that if someone is attacking you, you do have the right to defend yourself," says Hand.  The legislature enacted Alabama's law in 2006--before then victims were required to look for a way to retreat before using deadly force. Stand your ground law changed that.

It justifies deadly force in public places you have a right to be--like your neighborhood or a shopping center. 

"So it took away that duty to retreat of course then the issue becomes where do you have a right to be?," says Defense Lawyer Jeff Deen.  Deen says he always checks to see if stand your ground applies in murder cases he's trying.

"Most of the time in a homicide or murder prosecution, the defendant, that's the only offense he's ever committed and he's mad at somebody over something," says Deen.  Alabama's law allows a victim to respond with deadly force if they believe their life is in danger, the victim isn't committing a crime themselves and is not the aggressor. 

Florida began the debate over stand your ground with the George Zimmerman case--but there's not a lot of momentum to change it.   Last year a statewide study of stand your ground concluded with a public hearing in Pensacola--the group did not recommend big changes to the law. 

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