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SW OK Law Officials Speak on 'Stand Your Ground' Laws

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LAWTON Okla_ A law that surrounded the George Zimmerman trial is now on the forefront of many minds. "Stand Your Ground" states allow people to defend themselves, without trying to flee first, but only if a life is in danger.

Florida, where Trayvon Martin was killed, recognizes the law, just like Oklahoma and Texas.

The law stems from a case in 1985 where the Supreme Court ruled people could take action if there was no other option. As individual states started amending this law, the lines began to blur.

Defense Attorney Taylor Stein has seen it all. He's been a district attorney, special district judge, and at one time, a prosecutor. So, he has a good grasp on Oklahoma law.

"You have to have that fear from the defendant of great bodily injury or death," Stein said.

Oklahoma changed the self defense law just a few years back. People in our state and others with "Stand Your Ground" don't have to try to run away before they defend themselves.

"The traditional application of this is, of course, in your home, if someone is breaking into your home," Stein said. "It's kind of no holes barred. You don't have the duty to run out the back door."

Stein said the broadness of Stand Your Ground allows people not just to defend themselves in their own home, but also in public and even on the open street.

Duncan Police Chief Danny Ford agrees. The "Catch All" law has spilled over, making cases like Zimmerman/Martin sticky ones. Most self defense cases Ford sees are in the home, not on the street. He said if it happens, he treats the cases in similar ways.

"It would have to be fairly significant that it was not a self defense situation for us to make a probable cause arrest," Ford said.

Stein said if arrested, a person needs evidence to stand a chance in court, evidence he thinks was apparent in the Zimmerman/Martin case.

"Mr. Zimmerman sustained tangible injuries, tangible and fairly serious injuries, which they were able to prove," Stein said.

Even though the case has ruffled some feathers, Ford doesn't think it will change the way people think about self defense.

"A lot of times, the fear is that everyone is running around out there waiting to use that self defense law," Ford said. "I don't believe that at all. I haven't experienced that in almost 30 years."

Stein doesn't think the Zimmerman/Martin outcome will have any affect on law here in Oklahoma. He said most Oklahomans like the ability to "stand their ground."

While many Oklahomans may agree with Stand Your Ground, others don't.

Musician Stevie Wonder announced his boycott of "Stand Your Ground" states Tuesday. He vowed to not perform in any of the states until the law was abolished.

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