New poll finds that majority of Americans support ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws despite Zimmerman verdict

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, August 2, 2013

It looks like the circumstances surrounding the death of 17-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin haven’t turned the American people against the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law at the heart of the case.

A new Quinnipiac University poll released Friday found that 53 percent of Americans support the concept of “Stand Your Ground” laws, like the one in Florida, while 40 percent of Americans oppose the concept.

The biggest – and arguably most expected – divide between those who support the laws and those who don’t is race. Americans who consider themselves to be Caucasian support the law 57 percent to 37 percent, while African-Americans oppose it by those same numbers. Hispanics, like acquitted suspect George Zimmerman, are split, 44 to 43 percent in support of the laws.

Even a majority of Independents (57 percent) and Millennials (53 percent) support the idea of “Stand Your Ground” laws, according to the study.

“‘Stand Your Ground’ splits the country sharply along political, gender and racial lines,” Peter A. Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a press release. “With these kinds of numbers, it’s unlikely the movement to repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’ will be successful in most of the country.”

While not actually used by Zimmerman’s defense team, “Stand Your Ground” laws are designed to give an individual the right to use reasonable force to defend themselves or their property in a dangerous situation without any fear of legal punishment. Twenty-three states, including California, Nevada and Pennsylvania, all have some form of “Stand Your Ground” law on the books.

After Zimmerman’s acquittal, many politicians and celebrities have come out against the laws. Musician Stevie Wonder threatened to boycott every state that has the law in its books while Beyoncé and Jay Z made an appearance at a New York City rally in support of the slain Martin. President Obama – through his Attorney General, Eric Holder – has launched a full-scale attack on the laws, despite having once helped to strengthen Illinois’ “Stand Your Ground” law as a state senator. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has also vowed to hold a Senate hearing this fall to review the legality of the laws.

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