Sadly, some are exploiting the Trayvon Martin shooting to target self-defense laws that protect innocent lives. These laws safeguard law-abiding and peaceable citizens, and are not to blame in the tragic Florida incident. Stand your ground laws did not apply in that situation, and statements to the contrary are irresponsible and misinformed.
In some states the law imposes a duty to retreat from physical confrontations. Whether in your home or on the street, if you fought back, you might be prosecuted as a criminal.
This duty was terrible law. It required you to turn your back on an assailant. Even if he doesn’t have a gun to shoot you in the back, if he’s faster he could attack you from behind, where it is extremely difficult to effectively respond.
Some states did not impose this absurd rule. To the contrary, other states took a common-sense approach to self-defense, which the U.S. Supreme Court in Beard v. U.S. endorsed as early as 1895, when the Court unanimously declared that an innocent person under attack was, “not obliged to retreat, but was entitled to stand his ground, and meet any attack upon him with a deadly weapon, in such a way and with such force as … [he] honestly believed, and had reasonable grounds to believe, was necessary to save his own life, or to protect himself from great bodily injury.”