Gun owners and conservatives are up in arms over Attorney General Eric Holder's denouncement of "Stand Your Ground" laws, in particular his line about a "duty to retreat."
"There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if – and the 'if' is important – no safe retreat is available," Holder said Tuesday at an annual NAACP convention in Orlando. "But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat."
In criminal law, the duty to retreat is used to show a person first tried to avoid conflict before resorting to the use of force. Holder made the comments Tuesday in reference to the "not guilty" verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of black Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Gun blogs have jumped on the "duty to retreat" line, with TheTruthAboutGuns.com saying Holder is taking "any opportunity to erode Americans' ability to exercise their right to armed self defense." The gun forum Indiana Gun Owners has similarly lit up with commenters who questioned why they had a duty to retreat. A commenter named "Plinker" wrote: "We should retreat even if from our own houses... So a burglar breaks into my house and endangers my family and it is MY duty to retreat? What the heck kind of pretzel logic is that?"
The TexasGunBlog.com, meanwhile, angrily posted images of Holder next to a sloth, implying the two looked alike.
Conservative commentators also added fuel to the fire, including Michelle Malkin, who wrote in a column on Townhall.com that the "duty to retreat" defense wouldn't have applied in the Zimmerman case, because Martin may have been on top of Zimmerman during their scuffle.
Zimmerman's attorneys also didn't use Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law during the court proceedings, something GunsSaveLives.net used as a criticism of Holder's comments. But the Zimmerman case nevertheless sparked a national conversation about the effectiveness of the law, which allow use of force in self-defense – without a requirement to retreat – if there is a reasonable belief of danger or threat.