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State’s stand-your-ground law intact

State House Bureau

May 23. 2013 7:51PM

CONCORD — The Senate Thursday refused to act on a bill to repeal the state’s new stand-your-ground bill, effectively killing the effort.

The Senate voted 19-5 to table House Bill 135, which would have repealed the provision that extends the Castle Doctrine allowing people to defend themselves with deadly force without retreating while in their home on their property to any place a person has a right to be.

Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said since the bill passed in 2011, there have been no problems, no vigilante behavior and no inappropriate actions.

But Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, noted the state has always had very liberal gun policies and noted the Castle Doctrine has served New Hampshire citizens well for many years.

He spoke of the violence in his Senate district, including a murder last weekend, Manchester police officer Daniel Doherty being shot seven times and the murder of Police Officer Michael Briggs. He said his local hospital emergency room often treats stabbing and shooting victims.

Senators need to look at what happened in Florida and other states with stand-your-ground laws, D’Allesandro said.

The stand-your-ground law garnered 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.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said the problems D’Allesandro described are real, but not the result of people defending themselves under stand-your-ground.

When the law was written two years ago it was narrowly drawn and did not change the four conditions under which a person is legally justified in using deadly force.

“Those conditions are very narrow,” Bradley said, “That is why there have been no problems with stand-your-ground in New Hampshire.”

Before 2011 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 over the veto of former Gov. John Lynch and made New Hampshire one of about two dozen states with similar statutes.

House Minority Leader Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett, praised the Senate for killing the bill.

“Retreat is not something responsible New Hampshire citizens should be forced to do when faced with a deadly threat,” Chandler said. “Our right to self defense and defense of our families and other innocent victims should not be limited to the walls in which we reside. Claims that current law would result in increased violence are unfounded.”

HB 135 narrowly passed the House on a 189-184 vote in March.

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