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- After Trayvon Martin Slaying, Holder Blasts 'Stand Your Ground'
Attorney General Says Such Laws Cause More Violence Than They Prevent
- DEVLIN BARRETT
Speaking to the NAACP's annual convention in Orlando, Fla., not far from where George Zimmerman was tried for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Mr. Holder denounced laws that permit a person to use force in self-defense without first attempting to retreat from the situation.
"Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," Mr. Holder said. It was the first time the attorney general criticized such laws publicly, and by raising the issue in a speech largely about Mr. Martin's death, he suggested a connection between the shooting and the enactment of such laws.
Mr. Holder drew sustained applause when he declared, "We must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent."
Mr. Holder's comments rankled gun-rights groups and other supporters of such laws, who say they empower people to confront criminals in life-threatening situations, rather than flee. Erich Pratt, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America, said the attorney general "wants to take us back to the days where those who are under attack are forced to retreat.…We are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, and Lady Justice is supposed to be blind."