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Will Maryland buck the trend and enact ‘stand your ground?’

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At a time when many state legislators are scurrying to repeal their own “stand your ground” laws, one Maryland lawmaker is bucking the trend and taking the road less traveled. He’ll be introducing a “stand your ground” law for his state during the 2014 legislative session.

Maryland’s current “duty to retreat” law requires that a person being threatened outside his home must first retreat before employing deadly force in self-defense. Del. Pat McDonough indicated that this inadequately protects Marylanders in danger, according to The Washington Times.

McDonough released a statement saying “A substantial minority of states have laws imposing the duty to retreat. In my opinion, the duty to retreat is the weakest form of protection for crime victims and their families.”

stand-your-ground-statesNineteen states plus the District of Columbia are considered “duty to retreat” states, 31, “stand your ground,” according to The Volokh Conspiracy and Wikipedia.

“This is really a debate about pro-criminal legislation, which I think ‘duty to retreat’ is pro-criminal. Or, pro-crime victim legislation, which I think ‘stand your ground is,’” McDonough said.

McDonough cites lenient sentencing, early release of convicts and the influx of inner-city gangs as factors in his decision to try to get a majority of Maryland’s lawmakers to travel down that road with him — no easy task in the Democratic-controlled legislature.

“The reputation of the House Judiciary Committee regarding stonewalling good legislation promoting public safety is well-known,” McDonough said in his statement. “This panel, heavily loaded with criminal defense lawyers, abolished capital punishment and passed an unconstitutional gun control law.”

The George Zimmerman acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Central Florida will add to McDonough’s difficulty in persuading fellow lawmakers. Although “stand your ground” was never a factor in the verdict, it nonetheless became a rallying cry after the jury’s verdict.

For McDonough it apparently offered a time to reflect on the law’s purpose.


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