Police in Sanford, Fla., initially said they could not charge George Zimmerman, 28, who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense, because under current Florida law people who feel threatened, whether in their homes or elsewhere, have no duty to retreat. Martin, 17, was not armed.
The National Rifle Association, which holds its annual convention in St. Louis, starting Friday, has been pushing for similar laws in other states, The New York Times reported. The 2010 election, which gave Republicans control of more state legislatures, boosted the effort.
Many laws, either pending or adopted, expand the Castle Doctrine that residents do not have a duty to retreat when threatened in their own homes. Most states now allow handguns to be carried concealed, and a bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would require all states to honor concealed carry permits.
"Both directly and with cutouts like the American Legislative Exchange Council, the NRA is slowly and surely and methodically working at the state level to expand the number and kind and category of places where people can carry concealed, loaded weapons and use them with deadly force," said Mark Glaze, head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition. ALEC is a business-funded group that draws up model legislation for states.