Self-defense laws hit national spotlight

Posted on: 9:07 pm, July 23, 2013, by , updated on: 10:55am, July 24, 2013

Local attorneys say the George Zimmerman trial has thrown ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws into the national spotlight, but point out there’s no such thing on the books in Iowa or Illinois.

“In Illinois, we don’t have a ‘Stand Your Ground’ law. We have what we call self-defense,” said Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee.

“‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are generally just more aggressive as it relates to victims and what people can do as it relates to self-defense,” he added.

In Illinois, you can use reasonable force to protect yourself or others. That even includes deadly force, but only if you believe you are in danger of death yourself.

“If someone’s poking their finger in your face, and you’re arguing, and your voices are raised, I don’t believe that would constitute a reasonable basis on which you could pull out your gun and start blazing away,” said attorney Trent Marquis.

In Iowa, the law has different wording, but a similar meaning.

“I believe that in practicality, if you apply the law in each, you’re going to get a very, very similar result,” said Marquis.

An Iowa lawmaker has reportedly planned to reintroduce ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation in the state next session. Marquis, though, believes the difference between self-defense and ‘Stand Your Ground’ is minimal.

“In the end, a jury has to decide — did this person act reasonably or not?” Marquis said.

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin has called for hearings to investigate ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws across the country. Those will likely begin in the fall.

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