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Ga. 'stand your ground' law challenged

April 10, 2012 at 8:35 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, April 10 (UPI) -- In the wake of the fatal shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, a Georgia man is suing to have Georgia's "stand your ground law" done away with.

"Stand your ground" laws, on the books in several states, allow people to use what they believe to be reasonable, even deadly, force and claim self-defense if they feel threatened while out in public, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Michael Hutchins says in his suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta Monday, Georgia's law does not explicitly state what circumstances justify deadly force.

"It is not clear what actions would create 'reasonable belief' that deadly force is necessary," the suit reads. "An individual seeking to stand their ground and assert self-defense has no way of knowing if their 'reasonable belief' comports with the standards protected by the law and [they] want to ensure that they do not subject themselves to criminal penalties."

The suit goes on to say some courts have "accepted the race of a victim as evidence to establish the reasonableness of an individual's fear in cases of justifiable homicide."

"Stand your ground laws" have received national media attention lately, as George Zimmerman, 28, used Florida's statute to justify shooting Martin, an unarmed black teen, in a Sanford, Fla., gated community in late February.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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