Poll: Most Americans back ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

More than half the nation’s voters support “stand your ground” state laws authorizing citizens to use deadly force if they are threatened, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday.

By a margin of 53 percent to 40 percent, respondents to the survey said they favor having a law in their home state allowing people to use deadly force – even if they could retreat instead. Seven percent were undecided.

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The poll found that the public is deeply divided on the question, along both racial and gender lines. 

White voters, for instance, support Stand Your Ground laws 57 percent to 37 percent, while the numbers are exactly reversed for black voters, who oppose the laws by a 57 percent to 37 percent margin.

Sixty-two percent of men, meanwhile, back the laws, while 34 percent oppose them. Women are more divided, with 44 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed.

"Stand Your Ground splits the country sharply along political, gender and racial lines," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

After last month’s acquittal of volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, President Obama and Attorney Gen. Eric Holder criticized the laws and said they should be examined.

But legal experts and even Democratic lawmakers agreed there is little the federal government can do to stop states from adopting and enforcing the laws.

"With these kinds of numbers, it's unlikely the movement to repeal 'Stand Your Ground' will be successful in most of the country,” Brown said.

Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,468 registered voters by both cell phone and land line between July 28 and July 31. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

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