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Illinois Lawmaker Pushes For ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law

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Illinois State Capitol

Illinois State Capitol buillding in Springfield (AP Photo)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, in Sanford, Fla., has brought critical attention to the “Stand Your Ground” laws.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, such laws are intended to protect victims who fight back in self-defense rather than retreating from their attackers.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

Despite the controversy, legislators in other states, including Iowa and Illinois, are continuing to push forward similar bills.

State Rep. Rich Morthland (R-Cordova), said that while the Martin killing was a tragedy, he intended to reintroduce a bill that failed to pass in the state last month.

“If we do move forward with conceal carry and stand your ground legislation, at least Illinois is doing it with their eyes wide open. In light of recent news, we are at least, thinking about these things now,” Morthland said. “I will re-introduce this bill if we can attach it to conceal carry.”

“If we say it is legal to use a weapon and it’s legal to carry a weapon, and if it’s legal to use force with that weapon, we should protect that, and that they should know that they will be OK in doing that if they do it properly,” Morthland said.

Morthland said what happened in Florida is a tragedy and echoed President Barack Obama’s comments that every aspect of the case needs to be investigated.

Illinois has “Castle doctrine” laws, in which the use of deadly force in self-defense is restricted to one’s home.

Florida is among 21 states with “Stand Your Ground” laws that give people wide latitude to use deadly force rather than retreat during a fight, regardless of whether the action takes place in one’s home or on the street.

Critics have referred to the “Stand Your Ground” as the “shoot first, ask questions later” law, and have said it is tantamount to legalizing murder.

The author of the Florida “Stand Your Ground Law,” former Rep. Durell Peaden (R-Crestview), told CBS News that the gunman in the Trayvon Martin case, neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, would not be protected under his law.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told CBS News this past weekend that the U.S. Department of Justice needs to probe Stand Your Ground Laws across the country to determine “whether they actually increase, rather than decrease violence, whether they actually prevent law enforcement from prosecuting cases where a real crime has been committed.”

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