How ‘duty to retreat’ became ‘stand your ground’ By Jeffrey Bellin, Special to CNN

Tallahassee defense attorney Deveron Brown talks to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, right, about the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

Editor’s note: Jeffrey Bellin, an assistant professor of law at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law, formerly served as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C.

(CNN) – The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin and the initial decision by the police not to arrest George Zimmerman for that killing have focused public attention on Florida’sstand your ground” law.

According to police, Zimmerman claims self-defense, but many observers can’t understand how a grown man with a gun can plausibly claim that he was forced to kill a teenager armed only with some candy.

If that’s the law of self-defense in Florida (and elsewhere), these observers argue, the law needs to change.

Jeffrey Bellin

Jeffrey Bellin

The law of self-defense is at its core about reasonableness. If a person reasonably perceives a serious threat of harm, and uses reasonable force to meet that threat, the law justifies even deadly force, and it does so even if it turns out that the perceived threat was illusory. [CNN]   FULL ARTICLE

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