Stand Your Ground

September 2015 - National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws - Report and Recommendations

The Complimentary National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws - Report and Recommendations is available. 

Midyear 2015: ABA House of Delegates urges repeal of existing “stand your ground” laws
The House of Delegates adopted Resolution 112, urging legislative bodies and governmental agencies to significantly modify or refrain from enacting laws that eliminate the duty to retreat before using force in self-defense in public places.  

Annual 2014:  ABA task force report indicates failure of Stand Your Ground laws
After nearly 10 years of Stand Your Ground laws, the data on the controversial self-defense law is in and the results are not very impressive. Stand Your Ground laws increase homicides, have no deterrent on serious crimes, result in racial disparities in the criminal justice system and impede law enforcement.

Those were some of the finding from a yearlong national study by the American Bar Association National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws, which released its preliminary report during a session on Friday at the Annual Meeting in Boston.

The ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws:  A Brief Timeline

February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old, African American young man was killed by a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. The shooter, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain pursued Martin, first by vehicle, then by foot, simply because Martin - walking home from the corner store - appeared suspicious. Notwithstanding the 911 dispatcher’s directives to stand down, Zimmerman proceeded to confront Martin, inciting an altercation with the unarmed teenager which led to Martin’s death.

Zimmerman then claimed self-defense to justify his use of deadly force in confronting an unarmed teenaged Martin. Zimmerman sought refuge under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, § 776.012, Florida Statutes (2011).

April 7, 2012 The Coalition on Racial & Ethnic Justice (COREJ) prepared and submitted a White Paper to encourage the American Bar Association to respond to the significant legal and social justice issues raised by the Trayvon Martin tragedy. COREJ also urged the ABA to adopt an official position on state “Stand Your Ground” laws, which lie at the heart of the debate over the perceived injustice surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. The temporary prosecutorial immunity achieved by Trayvon’s attacker garnered national attention and extended and intensified the dialogue concerning equal justice. While the facts behind this tragedy continue to be investigated and debated, the complex interplay of race and justice is reason enough for the ABA to bring its expertise and resources to the discussion. Race and justice issues plague our nation. We cannot stand by in silence.

August 4, 2012 In Chicago, as part of the American Bar Association Annual Meeting, COREJ convened the program “Do or Die: Analysis of the Stand Your Ground Statutes.” Led by Leigh-Ann Buchanan, Chairperson of COREJ’s Program Committee, this program was specifically designed to enlighten its participants regarding “Stand Your Ground” statutes which then existed in more than twenty-five states and received increased national attention in the wake of the shooting of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

February 8, 2013 Dallas hosted the first in a series of Regional Hearings led by a newly created ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws.  Sponsored by COREJ along with ABA entities the Center for Racial and Ethnic Diversity, the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession, Council for Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, the Young Lawyer’s Division and the Section on Individual Rights & Responsibilities, the Criminal Justice Section, the Young Lawyers’ Division, the Standing Committee on Gun Violence, and the Commission on Youth at Risk, the Task Force launched a comprehensive legal study of Stand Your Ground laws – statutes in 32 states that have dramatically expanded the bounds of self-defense laws. The study looked at the statutes’ legal issues as well as impacts on the criminal justice system, individual liberties, public safety and groups that are traditionally marginalized. 

The fourth regional hearing of the National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws—held on Aug. 9 at the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco—was an opportunity to air concerns about controversial self-defense laws and longstanding social justice issues affecting the African American community.

Stand your ground laws remove the duty to first retreat if an individual believes his life to be in jeopardy. Opponents of stand your ground laws, including the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence term them “shoot first laws.”  

National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws hears from Chicagoland activists and lawyers who fear proliferation of self-defense laws

The American Bar Association National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws held its second regional public hearing recently at ABA headquarters in Chicago.

Chicago community leaders and regional stakeholders offered their perspectives on the impact of Stand Your Ground laws, which have expanded self-defense laws in more than half the jurisdictions in the United States. 

ABA National Stand Your Ground Laws Task Force to Hold Public Hearing in Chicago

ABA Launches National Task Force with Dallas Hearing on Stand Your Ground Laws

First Hearing on Stand Your Ground Laws Focuses on Racial Profiling and Human Costs.  The hearing, featured testimony from Craig Watkins, district attorney of Dallas County; State Rep. Garnet F. Coleman, District 147; Nicole Knox, Law Office of Nicole Knox; and Warren Seay Jr., law student, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

The Stand Your Ground Resolution (112) was adopted at the 2015 Mid Year Meeting on Monday, February 9, 2015.

Read the adopted resolution

View the video presentation to the House of Delegates.

ABA National Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws
Regional Hearings

Southeast Regional Hearing
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Miami, FL
Program Material

Western Regional Hearing
Friday, August 9, 2013
San Francisco, CA
Program Material
View C-SPAN Coverage

Northeast Regional Hearing
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Philadelphia, PA
Program Material
ABA News Article

Midwest Regional Hearing
Thursday, May 2, 2013
Chicago, IL
Program Material
ABA News Article
ABANews Video

Southwest Regional Hearing
Friday, February 8, 2013
Dallas, TX
Program Material
ABA News Article

Do or Die: Analysis of the Stand Your Ground Statutes
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Chicago, IL
Program Material
9 am - Noon