Since George Zimmerman claimed to have shot and killed teen Trayvon Martin in self-defense, controversy has swirled around Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. Nevada legislators passed a similar law last year, saying it would help protect citizens. But some critics say the law would open the door to more shootings, and people abusing it for their defense. Experts weigh in. What do you think? We want to hear from you: call 258-3552 during the live program, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christopher Blakesley, UNLV criminal law professor
John Hambrick, Nevada Assemblyman, District 2
Lynn Hatter, reporter, Florida Public Radio
Dennis Kenney, professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; former Florida police sergeant
"I do not see how this law makes it easier for someone to kill someone else. "
No one READS the law. they only THINK they know the law. Now, people who do that can later be prosecuted for murder or manslaughter, but that does nothing for those who are killed out of their ignorance-an ignorance that was fostered by passing a law that makes it easier to kill people.
Jim in Henderson –Apr 10, 2012 09:03:45 AM
Thanks to old sheep dog, I got my Ccw training last weekend. Is anyone who is taking part in this discussion going to talk about the considerations of a justifiable homicide according to Nevada law and what SYG law does, if anything, to augment the law? I feel confident in my understanding of when and how I could ethically and legally exercise my right to defend myself. The best, clearest laws in the world aren't going to stop people from exercising poor judgment but at least the current laws clearly allow me to protect myself and my family when the police are not immediately able to do so. Stricter gun laws only benefit those who don't follow them in the first place.kris –Apr 9, 2012 22:58:54 PM
This is not a rhetorical question and I am not being facetious. Considering how many pedestrian deaths there are in Las Vegas, if I am in a crosswalk or riding my bicycle on the street and someone is threatening me with their car (making a turn in front of me while I'm in the crosswalk, speeding towards the intersection, weaving, talking on a phone etc.) am I legally allowed, according to this "stand your ground" rule, to defend myself with a gun in order to keep from being struck and killed? Woody –Apr 9, 2012 22:20:22 PM
I do not see how this law makes it easier for someone to kill someone else. You still have to be in fear for your life or in fear that the suspect is going to do severe bodily harm to you that hasn't changed. Now all this law does is keep us law biding citizens from losing everything we got in fighting a self defense case in the courts. If someone was bashing my head into the ground and i managed to get away and they were still coming after me I would shoot them without a second thought. Bashing someones head into the ground or even beating them up while they are on the ground goes beyond simple assault, and can cause death or severe bodily harm so it would be justified. Like I said he was wrong for even confronting Trayvon but if what Zimmerman said is true then Trayvon was wrong in the way he handled it and the end result was such a tragedy. Taking any life should not be something taken lightly. But i dont believe that people should lose everything they have defending themselves in court if the witnesses tell the ploice the truth and they think its justified. The media has twisted this story around to get ratings. If they had not we wouldn't even know about. Joe In Las Vegas –Apr 9, 2012 11:05:25 AM
If you make it easier legally for people to kill each other, guess what? People will kill each other more often and get off. Simple. Jim in Henderson –Apr 9, 2012 10:38:13 AM
I have worked as a armed security officer and i carry my gun within the boundaries the law allows. Now the threat of physical violence from a unarmed man is not in my opinion a reason to use deadly force. It is a tragedy what happened to that boy in Florida. It could have been avoided as a block watch person his job was to observe and report. Under our citizens arrest laws you can not use force to citizens arrest anyone for anything other then a felony and then may only use enough force as needed. Now unless he seen that boy committing a felony he had no reason at all to even approach him. The police told him not to but he did. So in my opinion both Zimmerman and Trayvon were wrong. Now maybe he should have been charged with some sort of crime for not following the police instructions. I believe the Stand your ground law is needed. So one that has to use deadly force is not charged with a crime and lose everything they got fighting for their freedom. This law shouldn't be brought into question over this incident. The criminal element has no fear except the gun carrying law biding citizens. A armed America is a safer America. Joe Boggs –Apr 9, 2012 10:35:28 AM
It seems to me that it should never be a person's presumed right to inflict any harm on another person. When you legalize an average citizen's "right" to injure/kill another then you incentivize violence over de-escalation. I feel it would be better to continue with it being assumed that killing/harming any person is a crime. If you are unfortunate enough to be in that situation the circumstances would be considered and a decision made on if you should be charged with that crime but never should there be a blanket law saying that anyone has the right to harm another. Without thinking about it very hard obvious possible abuses come to mind. I don't feel such a law makes any one safer and sadly has the actual effect of making people less trusting or willing to help one another which is the true foundation of a safe society, not gun-toting. Jean –Apr 9, 2012 10:26:08 AM
I have a current Nevada concealed carry weapon (CCW)permit and have held CCW permits in South Dakota and Texas. The CCW training in Texas was EXTENSIVE with the bulk of the 8 hour classroom instruction devoted to the consequences of shooting someone. Bottom line, I walked out of the training with the attitude that I'm not shooting anyone unless they are threatening my life and I cannot retreat. Criminal sanctions aside, the civil ramifications are not worth it.Greg Thomas –Apr 9, 2012 09:53:21 AM
PLEASE get back to the PUBLIC POLICY ISSUE: when is using deadly force justified, and how is/has the SYG law augmenting that? We have the right to self defense. The "reasonable person" standard worked well for a very long time, over many decades. Politicians, baiting the public, engaged in pandering that had unintended consequences (it is much easier to get away with murder). So WHAT should the broad policy be? Should every person be held to the "reasonable person under the same or similar circumstances," a rule which applies uniformly to an entire society, or should we have a rule that allows every person to claim that their unique background and experience leaves each person to be an "army of one," basing their decision to shoot upon their own experience, psychology etc. (which seems to be a slippery slope). ANYONE can perceive a "fear". REASONABLE PERSON standards are the best barrier to chaos, and absence thereof, though viscerally satisfying, has consequences that we, as a society, are probably unwilling to shoulder.Brad Leutweyler –Apr 9, 2012 09:49:48 AM
We have the wrong culture to suddenly eliminate long standing rules of self-defense favoring de-escalation. Trayvon-Martin: a self-appointed vigilante packing a handgun stalking someone with no cause. Even our trained law enforcement personnel have been quick on the trigger. In a recent KNPR interview, the PPA defense of police actions was right out of a military handbook for an occupying force in enemy territory. We have a huge cultural problem.Chuck Gardner –Apr 9, 2012 09:47:51 AM
I am a middle aged Black man. No criminal record, a father of four sons and an good citizen of this country. I have been trained in firearm usage and it's capabilities and the firearm does not make me a man, aas it does some people. The atmosphere now is hightened with "white fear" of Black people. We have done nothing to deserve the stereotype, but I must warn you, if you bother us, we will "stand our ground" as well. Generally, we as a people do not want to be bothered, by the police, who are citizens first or any others. Mr. Leon –Apr 9, 2012 09:47:49 AM
I think that we are missing the point with this case. Mr Zimmerman, after being told, by the police, not to leave his vehicle. did so. He confronted the victim. Any reasonable person would be affected by this confrontation. Charlie –Apr 9, 2012 09:45:16 AM
QUIT CALLING HIM "SELF-APPOINTED". It sounds like you are trying to skew things. It is irrelevant how he got the job. Would it matter whether Jesus had appointed him? NO! If he had been elected? NO! All it sounds like is that you are (a) just following the herd, which you are better than, David, or (2) trying to influence opinion, which I doubt. STOP IT.Brad Leutwyler –Apr 9, 2012 09:39:28 AM