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In 2013, the National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws was convened by the American Bar Association to review and analyze the recently enacted Stand Your Ground laws in multiple states and their impact on public safety and the criminal justice system. The Task Force members are a diverse array of leaders from law enforcement, government, and the public and private health sector. They also include public and private criminal attorneys, academic experts, and other legal and social science experts.The Task Force has conducted a comprehensive legal and multidisciplinary analysis of the impact of the Stand Your Ground laws, which have substantially expanded the bounds of self-defense law in over half of the jurisdictions in the United States. The study detailed herein is national in its scope and assesses the utility of previous, current, and future laws in the area of self-defense across the United States.
The ABA's National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws conducted a broad investigation of Stand Your Ground laws across the United States. Much of the recent media attention surrounding Stand Your Ground laws is due to the nationally publicized fatal shooting of the Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, and the subsequent prosecution and acquittal of George Zimmerman. However, the Task Force's investigation went well beyond Florida's laws and did not focus on any one case. The Task Force explored the broad national landscape of Stand Your Ground laws and how they impact public safety and the criminal justice system. The Task Force analyzed the impact these laws have on a individual's right of self-defense, as well as a victim's right to be informed, present, and heard, and a criminal defendant's right to a fair and just trial. This report details the Task Force's investigation, including the public hearings that were conducted in five regional fora, the 50 state legal survey of the laws, and the latest social science data on the efficacy of Stand Your Ground laws. As of 2014, 33 states have Stand Your Ground laws. In these states an individual has no duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense, either at home or in public.