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Georgia Senate passes 'shoot first' bill

[JURIST] The Georgia Senate [official website] passed a bill Thursday that would allow Georgians to use deadly force when they feel threatened in public areas. Bill 396 [text PDF; sponsor's press release, PDF] extends Georgia's current law by extending the right to use deadly force beyond private property, saying that citizens have no duty to retreat even if it is possible to do so safely and grants criminal and civil immunity to people who do use deadly force so long as the weapon used is legal. In September 2005, Florida passed a similar law [JURIST report] despite significant opposition. A Michigan "shoot first" bill [text PDF], scheduled for a vote February 2006, was tabled after controversy. An NRA spokesperson told a Georgia Senate committee that the bill "restores self-defense and puts the government back on the side of honest citizens." Opponents of the measure fear it will open the door to more violence. The bill now heads to the Georgia House. AP has more. The Atlanta Journal Constitution has local coverage.

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