Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. criticized so-called "stand your ground" laws in a speech Tuesday in Florida, saying they undermine public safety by "allowing and perhaps encouraging" violent situations to escalate in public.
"It's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods," Holder said during the keynote speech in Orlando at the NAACP annual convention. Holder's speech is here.
"These laws try to fix something that was never broken," said Holder, whose comments were punctuated by applause. "There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force, if—and the if is important—if no safe retreat is available."
Holder said "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 – outside their home—if they can do so safely."
The attorney general also addressed the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that struck down an anti-discrimination provision of the Voting Rights Act that the department relied on in enforcement measures.
"Unfortunately, last month, an important piece of this foundation was chipped away—when the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act," Holder said.
The attorney general called on Congress to "consider new legislation restoring and even strengthening modern voting protections." Holder announced today he was directing resources in the Civil Rights Division to focus on provisions of the Voting Rights Act that remain unaffected by the Supreme Court decision.
For more on Holder's remarks, check back with NLJ.com later today.