[The Washington Post]
ORLANDO — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. strongly condemned “stand your ground” laws Tuesday, saying the measures “senselessly expand the concept of self-defense” and may encourage “violent situations to escalate.”
The statutes, which have been enacted in more than 30 states, have become the focus of a complicated national debate over race, crime and culpability since the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. The volunteer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder charges Saturday.
Zimmerman’s attorneys did not try to get the case dismissed based on Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which says people who feel threatened can defend themselves with deadly force and are not legally required to flee. Still, the jury was instructed that as long as Zimmerman was not involved in an illegal activity and had a right to be where he was when the shooting occurred, “he had no duty to retreat and the right to stand his ground.”
“These laws try to fix something that was never broken,” Holder told cheering delegates of the annual convention of the NAACP, which is pressing him to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. “The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent.”