When Self-Defense Laws Go Too Far

Emily Bazelon takes a close look at Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which protected the man who killed Trayvon Martin:

It’s that decision not to press charges that makes Stand Your Ground laws, which a bunch of other states have adopted, a crazy departure from the past. It’s one thing to raise self-defense at trial. It’s another to have what the Florida Supreme Court calls “true immunity.” True immunity, the court said, means a trial judge can dismiss a prosecution, based on a Stand Your Ground assertion, before trial begins.

Gregory O'Meara, a former prosecutor, thinks basic self-defense laws are enough:

To claim self defense or defense of others under current statutes, a person under attack (the defender) needs to raise credible proof: first, that he reasonably thought he (or another) was unlawfully under imminent deadly attack by another; second, that each forceful action, including deadly force, he took in response to this attack was necessary to stop the attack; and third, that he acted solely with the intent to thwart the unlawful attack. In many jurisdictions, the defender must withdraw from the fight before using deadly force if he can do so in complete safety. If the defender meets these requirements, he will be found not guilty.