ATLANTA — Georgia should keep its self-defense law, Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters Tuesday.
The chairman of a major legislative committee said his panel might consider repealing it.
Deal said he was pleased that no violent demonstrations had broken out in Georgia over the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case. Groups across the country have said the verdict and the Stand Your Ground Law encourage attacks on unarmed blacks like 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The law allows people to defend themselves with deadly force if threatened in their home, business, car or place they are entitled to be. Georgia is one of 22 states with similar laws.
Although Zimmerman did not assert a defense under that law, it has become the focus of protests.
Deal predicted some lawmaker would introduce legislation to repeal it.
“I’m fairly sure that there will be somebody in the General Assembly who will ask us to at least revisit … the Stand Your Ground legislation that was passed in 2006,” he said. “I do not see anything out of the ordinary in terms of that statute in that it is very similar to the statute in other states, including … Florida.”
Senate Democratic Whip Vincent Fort, of Atlanta, introduced Senate Bill 147 a week before Martin’s shooting last year. The bill would require anyone with a gun to withdraw from a threat before using deadly force. Within days of Martin’s death, Fort became a steady voice in calling for changing Stand Your Ground, but his bill stalled in the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee led by Sen. Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro.
Reached at his office, Stone said he might schedule a hearing on it in the next legislative session that starts in January.
“(Fort) didn’t have the votes to get it out of committee as far as I could tell,” he said. “It was a little premature.”
The chairman said the committee has limited time to devote to bills that are unlikely to pass and that the leadership last year had no interest in passing any bills on gun owners’ rights.
The governor predicted the public hearings and debate would be emotionally charged. But he doesn’t expect to be swayed. “I do not see any reason to change it, but there again, that is the will of the General Assembly that will prevail.”