On Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder was scheduled to speak to the NAACP convention in Orlando. There, his prepared remarks will call for an end to state “stand your ground” laws – laws that provide citizens with the ability to fight back against aggressors in public places rather than attempting to flee first. “It’s time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods,” Holder was scheduled to say. “These laws try to fix something that was never broken.”
He will state, “There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the ‘if’ is important – no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.”
Holder will also claim that “stand your ground” laws make states less safe by “allowing – and perhaps encouraging – violent situations to escalate in public.” Yet between 2005 (when Florida’s “stand your ground” law was passed) and 2010, Florida’s violent crime rate dropped 23 percent, an increasingly rapid drop from the 12 percent drop from 2000-2005. Here are the violent crime rate statistics year over year in Florida since 2000:
- 2001: 0%
- 2002: -4%
- 2003: -5%
- 2004: -3%
- 2005: -1%
- 2006: 1%
- 2007: 0%
- 2008: -5%
- 2009: -10%
- 2010: -10%
George Zimmerman never invoked “stand your ground” in his killing of Trayvon Martin. His case was predicated on pure self-defense.
The alternative to “stand your ground” laws are laws requiring a “duty to retreat.” That would mean that if you are confronted on the street by someone holding a knife, you would have the obligation to run rather than to defend yourself if you have the ability to run.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).