AG Foster: Lawmakers should 'take another look' at 'stand-your-ground' law
CONCORD -- New Hampshire's new attorney general said Wednesday state lawmakers should consider "another look" at New Hampshire's "stand your ground" law after a repeal effort failed earlier this year.
The comments by Joseph Foster came after United States Attorney General Eric Holder strongly condemned such state laws Tuesday in an address to the NAACP in Florida. Holder commented in the wake of the George Zimmerman acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case.
A bill to repeal New Hampshire's "stand your ground law" was passed by the House this year but then tabled by the state Senate, on a bipartisan vote of 19-5. The session ended with the bill still tabled, effectively killing it but leaving the issue available to be considered again next year.
Foster told UnionLeader.com he respects the legislative process, but, "In due course, it would warrant taking a look at it.
"This office opposed its passage and supported its repeal" before Foster was confirmed as attorney general in April, he noted. Foster's predecessor, Michael Delaney, strongly opposed the "stand your ground" law.
Foster, a former state senator said that before he was attorney general, he opposed "stand your ground."
"In due course, it would be wise to take another look at it," he said.
"I think what it can do is cause a situation to escalate that doesn't need to," said Foster. "And it could result in serious harm to not only the initial actors but others in the wrong set of circumstances."
Under prior state law, Foster said, "you only had to retreat if you could safely do so."
Foster said he is not on a "bully pulpit" calling for repeal, but said that when he was asked about it by the media Wednesday, he stated his views.
New Hampshire's current "stand your ground" law allows for the use of deadly force if a victim "reasonably believes" deadly force is about to be used against him. Such force can be used wherever the victim encounters a perceived attacker.
The law was passed in 2012 by the then-GOP-controlled state Legislature over the veto of then-Gov. John Lynch.
In March of this year, the House, controlled by Democrats, voted narrowly -- 189-184 -- to repeal it.
The Senate, however tabled the repeal bill.
The repeal bill's prime sponsor, House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, said he may try to revive the bill next year.
"I would talk to people on both sides of the aisle and in both bodies and see if they felt it had merit," said Shurtleff. "I would talk to Democrats and Republicans, and if they felt there was a good chance of passage, then possibly I would bring it back."
Holder on Tuesday told the NAACP, "These laws try to fix something that was never broken," according to The Washington Post. The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent."
The NAACP is pressuring Holder to file federal civil charges against Zimmerman, the Post reported.
According to the Post, more than 30 states have versions of "stand your ground" laws.