Calls for 'stand your ground' gun law in Maryland

Lawmaker calls for 'stand your ground' law in Maryland

Maryland currently mandates individuals retreat before using deadly force

UPDATED 6:17 PM EDT Aug 22, 2013

ESSEX, Md. —A local lawmaker wants Maryland to enact a "stand your ground" law similar to those in 16 other states

Delegate Pat McDonough, R-District 7, whose district encompasses portions of Baltimore and Harford counties, announced plans Thursday to push for a "stand your ground" law, saying he considers his legislation a form of self-defense, predicting those who vote against it will be considered pro-criminal by voters in the 2014 election year.

"Stand your ground" laws have become a lightning rod for controversy across the country. The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin fueled the debate, even though Florida's "stand your ground" law was not part of Zimmerman's defense.

"The 'stand your ground' states are eliminating the requirement to retreat if you honestly believe that deadly force is imminently coming at you," said University of Baltimore Law School Professor Byron Warnken.

Sixteen states currently have "stand your ground" laws on the books: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

In Maryland, individuals have a duty to retreat before considering and using deadly force.

"We are going to be introducing legislation in the January session of the General Assembly to create a 'stand your ground' law in Maryland, which is the strongest form of protection for crime victims and potential crime victims," McDonough said.

Maryland's self-defense law, as interpreted by the courts, provides an exception to the duty to retreat. "Stand your ground" states have exemptions as well.

In Kansas, for example, this defense can't be used during the commission of a crime. In North Carolina, it can't be used in circumstances that involve law enforcement or even landlord disputes.

"When you have a duty to retreat, the victim can be subject to a civil lawsuit and criminal prosecution," McDonough said.

A law signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley in 2010 provides civil immunity from damages when force or deadly force is used under reasonable circumstances.