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NH Senate committee wants to keep stand-your-ground law despite push to repeal it

State House Bureau

April 30. 2013 10:20PM

CONCORD - A Senate committee is recommending the state's two-year-old stand-your-ground law remain in place.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 Tuesday to kill House Bill 135, which would repeal the law that has been in affect since 2011.

The committee held a public hearing on the bill last week where supporters said the repeal is needed to restore the balance between self defense and the sanctity of human life that existed for 40 years, but opponents charge that repeal would put people's lives at risk if they don't defend themselves when they are threatened.

The bill is sponsored by House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, D-Concord, who told the committee "We don't need stand-your-ground in this state."

Shurtleff's bill would remove the section of law that extends the Castle Doctrine from a person's home and property to every place he or she has a right to be.

Under the old law, a person's first obligation was to retreat from danger if he or she could do so safely, before responding with deadly force. Under stand-your-ground, there is no obligation to retreat safely before using deadly force if a person feels threatened.

The stand-your-ground law was approved in 2011 over the veto of then-Gov. John Lynch and made New Hampshire one of about two dozen states with similar statutes.

The law gained national attention when unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense and said he was being beaten by Martin.

The bill has little chance of passing the Republican controlled Senate, but it did pass the Democratically-controlled House on a 189-184 vote.

The Senate is not likely to vote on the bill before May 16.

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