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Alaska's 'stand your ground' law coming soon

Posted: July 28, 2013 - 9:00pm

FAIRBANKS (AP) — On the heels of the George Zimmerman trial in Florida, Alaska’s own “stand your ground” law goes into effect in September.

The law allows deadly force in self-defense when a person could otherwise safely leave an altercation.

Opponents argue it encourages unnecessary violence, The Fairbanks News-Miner reported in Sunday’s newspaper. But the law’s supporters say it ensures people won’t have to second-guess themselves in dangerous situations.

The law has raised concerns among many, including NAACP organizers who put together a rally against the law earlier this month in Anchorage. Many opponents fear the law will be unfairly biased against minorities, pointing to cases in the Lower 48.

In Florida, Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, in self-defense. He was acquitted this month of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. The Florida version of the law was not used in Zimmerman’s defense, but it was central to the case and was included in instructions to the jury.

The Fairbanks News-Miner reports that Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, was a “yes” vote and said in an interview this week that he felt the “stand your ground” measure ensures the law is on the side of the public and not criminals.

“People can be put in dangerous circumstances very rapidly these days; protection is one of the things that you can do,” he said. “Those things happen in a split second.”

The stand your ground law expands on Alaska’s “castle doctrine,” a law Coghill helped pass, which gives people strong protections to use deadly force in self-defense in their homes or workplaces.

However, the castle doctrine requires a person leave the place of an altercation “if the person knows that, with complete personal safety and with complete safety as to others being defended, the person can avoid the necessity of using deadly force by leaving the area of the encounter.”

There are exemptions to what’s called the “duty to retreat,” including on owned or rented property, property where the person is a guest or at a person’s workplace.

The new provisions of the stand your ground law eliminate the duty to retreat for “any other place where the person has a right to be.”

Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, was the lone Interior lawmaker to vote against the law when it passed the House earlier this year. Guttenberg said he heard no persuasive arguments for passing the law.

“It was talking points about how people should be able to defend yourself. You can defend yourself now. When you feel safe and you can put your gun down and put your baseball bat down,” he said. “If you felt threatened, you can defend yourself. When you no longer feel there’s a threat, you shouldn’t be able to go on the offensive.”

Alaska law currently permits the use of deadly force in self-defense in cases where a person “reasonably believes the use of deadly force is necessary” to avoid death, serious physical injury, kidnapping, sexual assault in first and second degree, sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree and robbery.

Guttenberg said people are already completely protected by the current law.

“(The stand your ground) law just allows people to go on the offensive,” he said. “It doesn’t do what people think it does, and people will get the idea that they can shoot people wherever they want. I just think we went too far.”

An administrative review of the bill provided to Gov. Sean Parnell before signing noted that it “may complicate certain criminal prosecutions,” without detailing what those may entail.

However, Attorney General Michael Geraghty says in the review that “the language in the bill does not present any legal concerns.”

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Sam Von Pufendorf
Sam Von Pufendorf 07/29/13 - 03:49 am
Shoddy Reporting by the AP!!!

From the Associated Press article above:
"The law allows deadly force in self-defense when a person could otherwise safely leave an altercation."

From the bill:
"A person MAY NOT use deadly force under this section if the person knows that, with complete personal safety and with complete safety as to others being defended, the person can avoid the necessity of using deadly force by leaving the area of the encounter, except there is no duty to leave the area if the person is
(1) on premises
(A) that the person owns or leases;
(B) where the person resides, temporarily or permanently; or
(C) as a guest or express or implied agent of the owner, lessor,or resident;"

jake 07/29/13 - 12:11 pm
Stand Your Ground

This forces me to make the decision to never leave the house with out a fire arm and if a person is stocking me then I'll have to assume he has a gun and plans on causing me bodily harm and I'll turn with said gun pulled and pointed and give him one minute to explain himself before I "Stand My Ground"

cas 07/29/13 - 02:31 pm
This law will only apply to

This law will only apply to minorities at a greater rate if they are perpetrating the crimes at a higher rate and thus find themselves in the position to be on the receiving end of the "stand your ground" law. If they keep their nose clean and not put themselves in these positions then they won't be on the receiving end. Its that simple!!!

Sam Von Pufendorf
Sam Von Pufendorf 07/30/13 - 02:16 am

In the situation you describe, the stand your ground law would apply more to the stalker than it would yourself. An imminant threat, does not constitute imminent danger of bodily harm or loss of life and depending on circumstances, you are able to remove yourself from a threat or possible use of deadly force.
In your discription, your perception of a stalker is just that, a perception. Even if if you were being stalked, did the stalker present an imminent threat of death or bodily harm (rape, kidnap, assault)? When, in your discription, you turned, gun drawn, YOU became the imminent threat to the percieved stalker. YOU escalated the situation. The situation you posted above describes almost precisely the basis for the Zimmerman case. Martin was being followed by Zimmerman who was at that time not an imminent threat. When the 17 year old turned and confronted Zimmerman physically, martin became the agressor and was subject to "stand your ground."
Your decisions encompass far more than whether to leave your home armed or unarmed. Your decisions require good judgement and a high level of sense and restraint prior to using deadly force. Deadly force, whether with a handgun, knife or a stick should be the LAST resort, NOT the first!
CAS, I certainly hope your post was sarcastic.

leewaytooo 07/30/13 - 03:28 am
hunting season is open in

hunting season is open in sept....

GITERDONE 07/31/13 - 08:37 pm

It seems everyone has gotten so tolerant of other people's aggressive and belligerent behavior to others that they believe it is a right to threaten another human being just because they feel they need to for some reason. I am thinking of the Travon case in particular. There are civil rights and there are human rights, I don't understand why if there are Human rights, why the H^$# would we even need Civil rights?
Aren't we all human? Don't we all deserve the exact same treatment in every situation regardless of age, sex, religion, political persuasion,wealth, I.Q. or race? How is it that a couple kids can shoot a 18 month old baby in front of their mother and it makes less news than the substantiated self defense shooting of Travon? Is it only wrong to beat someone's head into the pavement if you are the same race? Otherwise it is not wrong?
What are we teaching the younger generation to be putting up with this ideology without speaking out?
Until people are truly equal in every aspect of life, racism will still exist. That is why we need to focus on Human rights, not civil rights whatever the %^% they are as I don't fully understand (the right to act civil would be the normal explanation I guess). Martin Luther king said " Men should only be judged on the content of their character not the color of their skin" I am all for that! 100%!
If somone is beating my head into the pavement, the very last thing on my mind woud be wondering what continent that their ancestors might have been borne in.

Stand your ground! And Live well.

radiokenai 08/04/13 - 10:07 am
We are in a new world people!

I can remember my Grandfather telling me a Story that, back in the 1950's, a robber had him at gunpoint and was attempting an armed robbery from his liquor store. My Grandfather shouted out "Your a D*mned Fool"! and the robber decided it best to retreat from his harm was done.

These days of morality and reasoning are so far gone people! There are gangs that kill just to be initiated. Let me see, I am suppose to have my life ended so some punk can enter a stupid gang? I think not!

I see all the whining liberal comments above crying over poor little Trayvon. Give me a break! Gitterdone has it right when he makes his statement!

We are tired of being the victims, it is now time we "stood our ground"!

God Bless Alaska!

radiokenai 08/04/13 - 10:08 am
PS:: Guttenberg....

What an idiot you are!

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