Lawmakers consider changes to 'Stand Your Ground'

April 18, 2012 2:17:12 PM PDT
Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law has garnered a lot of attention in the wake of the killing of unarmed Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Police there defended their decision not to arrest George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, because of that stand your ground law.

North Carolina recently passed a similar self-defense law. Now, the Trayvon Martin shooting has critics ready to make some changes.

Last June, the General Assembly tacked on a stand your ground provision onto the state's Castle Doctrine. No longer are you legally required to first retreat from a fight.

The statute took effect in December. It offers new protections to North Carolinians reasonably protecting themselves. It reads, "...a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be."

A gun enthusiast, Eric Owens, told ABC11 that he grew up hunting and target shooting but now, with a wife and children, self-defense is everything. He's glad the state loosened restrictions.

"I mean if I feel threatened, or my family is threatened, I want to feel like I can protect them without reciprocation from the law-- if it seems warranted," said Owens.

But the Florida controversy has critics and some state lawmakers ready to make some changes.

"I truly believe... that we need to revisit these laws," said State Rep. Rodney Moore. "What I don't want is another tragedy to happen to a child in North Carolina or any one in North Carolina."

Wake County's district attorney admitted the stand your ground defense raises some troubling questions.

"It's different if you're in your bedroom at 2 a.m. and somebody's trying to get in the window," said District Attoreny Colon Willoughby. "Those cases are easy. It's much harder in the aisle of the grocery store to say a reasonable person would've felt threatened."

Moore told ABC11 that he's prepared to propose legislation to beef up the state's 'stand your ground' law in an effort to add more accountability.

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