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Fight or flight: What do gun laws encourage?

by AirTalk®

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Nerses Karapetyan, from Glendale, buys a gun at the Gun Gallery in Glendale, California, 18 April 2007. The massacre at Virginia Tech has ignited fresh talk in the Democratic-led US Congress about tightening US gun laws but it is doubtful enough lawmakers will tackle the politically charged issue. With so many citizens in love with their guns and defensive of their right under the Constitution to keep and bear arms, politicians are reluctant to take on gun owners or the powerful gun lobby. GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

National outrage over the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was answered yesterday – the special prosecutor charged shooter George Zimmerman with second-degree murder. Legal analysts say the state is facing a tough case, especially because self-defense laws there allow you to "stand your ground" or fight back if you perceive a threat.

It's not just the Sunshine State that eliminated a person's duty to retreat when under physical threat. California and dozens more have similar self-defense laws on the books. It's why New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg kicked off a national campaign to repeal gun laws that he says "justify civilian gun play."

Speaking in Washington, D.C. on behalf of several major advocacy groups, Bloomberg announced "Second Chance on Shoot First." The coalition will lobby state lawmakers across the country. Bloomberg said it will also craft model legislation.

What do you see as model legislation in the area of self-defense? Have you ever been in a "fight or flight" scenario -- with or without a gun? How did you respond? What would you do under threat on the street or in your home? And would it be legal in California? What does California's law state explicitly?


Adam Winkler, Professor of Law at UCLA; author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America” (2011)

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