Lawmakers Consider Self Defense Bill
ANCHORAGE - It’s been a month since Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Florida.
The case triggered nationwide outrage after no arrest was made, and the city’s police chief resigned as a result.
George Zimmerman claimed self-defense under Florida’s "stand your ground" law, which allows citizens to use deadly force when faced by an attacker.
Here in Alaska, a similar law is being considered in Juneau this legislative session.
“This legislation is specifically clarifying that an individual in this state does not have to second guess the consequences of protecting their family or themselves,” said Representative Mike Hawker, (R-Anchorage).
But some argue an incident like the one in Florida could happen here. James Fayette, an Anchorage prosecutor, testified against the bill last week in Juneau.
“This bill dangerously expands the defense of self defense in a way that’s completely unnecessary; there's no immediate crisis to the list of people who do not have the duty to retreat infinitely,” said Fayette.
Lawmakers who support the bill say it comes down to protecting our freedom.
“Freedom and liberty is never without its peril. But we don't compromise the freedom and liberty of the individual to protect… to defend the criminal,” said Hawker.
Others say the future of House Bill 80 is uncertain.
“I think the case in Florida has caused the supporters here in Juneau to rethink their support, and I think they may be in the process of changing their mind,” said Hollis French (D-Anchorage).