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Courts / Law

Florida's Stand Your Ground Law Under Attack

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When George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin, he invoked a "Stand Your Ground" defense. And now, supporters of the law are finding themselves on the defensive.

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin has led to a national debate about "Stand Your Ground."

The law says you no longer have a duty to retreat if you feel threatened. Instead, you're allowed to defend yourself using force -- even deadly force.

On this week's Florida Matters,  host Carson Cooper breaks down what the Stand Your Ground law does and does not allow with two experts -- Clearwater defense attorney Stephen Romine, and Stetson University law professor Robert Batey.

Romine says "Stand Your Ground" fixed a problem in Florida law. People who legitimately used self-defense in public settings were being asked to justify why they did not try to flee.

"You could make the same arguments under self-defense. This law doesn’t create a more dangerous scenario for people. It’s just another law that’s subject to abuse, just like self-defense laws."

Under previous law, if you faced a threat, you were required to retreat if you could. Under "Stand Your Ground," you no longer have a duty to retreat.

But Romine says the lawmakers who are defending the law are wrong to imply it doesn't apply to Zimmerman because he was following Martin.

"There’s no exception to stand your ground just because you approached somebody or followed somebody,” Romine said.

The main change is to law enforcement, he said. They face a lawsuit if they arrest someone who turns out to have a valid "Stand Your Ground" defense.

We'd love to hear what you say about Stand Your Ground. Go to facebook.com/WUSF and let us know.