Looking at Oklahoma's Stand Your Ground law in the wake of the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict

TULSA - In the wake of the not guilty verdict for George Zimmernan in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, support and opposition remains for Oklahoma's Stand Your Ground law.

Oklahoma's version of Stand Your Ground was signed into law in 2006.

In part, it says, " A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

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For NRA certified handgun instructor and self-defense teacher Don Roberts, the law is a necessity.

"There are some states that say, 'If you get attacked, then you've got to retreat,' but that doesn't make any sense because, really, most of us, just regular citizens, won't even be able to retreat," he says.

Eighty-five percent of the time, Roberts says, people will freeze when faced with a violent confrontation.

He says that if the law were more well-defined, situations like Zimmerman's, where a jury must be called in to determine whether the force was justifiable, wouldn't be needed.

"If you don't have it well-defined, then it's going to go before a jury every time," Roberts said. "But where you can put particulars in there that say, 'One, that person is not engaged in an unlawful activity. Two, if they have a right to be there, then they get attacked they don't have a duty to retreat.' And that makes sense, doesn't it?"

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It doesn't to Dr. Warren G. Blakney Sr., pastor of North Peoria Church of Christ and the former president of the local branch of the NAACP.

"The stand your ground law facilitates the acts of violence that we see happening across our country. I think it needs to be revisited because it's something that is not good for our country," Pastor Blakney says.

He says the law reinforces profiling, especially when it involves, as in the case of Trayvon Marin, young black men.

"This kid had never been necessarily in the system. He just fit a profile. He's got a hood, you know, a black guy in a community he's not supposed to be in supposedly with some skittles," Blakney says, "This guy goes after him and profiled him."

Blakney, who says he wasn't surprised by the jury's findings, believes Stand Your Ground needs to be eliminated to prevent this type of profiling.

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"Whether it's Stand Your Ground Law or whatever law they are, we need to look at trying to be just in our system and make certain that justice is dispensed. And we don't profile kids," he says.

While Roberts believes Stand Your Ground is here to stay, he says he wouldn't rule out changes to the law. But, he said, he could only support such measures if the changes were based on unbiased, empirical data.

"It's better for it to back off, make a logical decision and remove all the bias, all the your own profiling that you do and only let the real data sift out. So you can see what the real picture is."

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