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The difference between 'stand your ground' and self-defense

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Updated: 7/18/2013 7:01 pm

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The George Zimmerman murder trial verdict has promoted anger and confusion in North Florida. And even though it wasn't used as Zimmerman's defense, it has called into question the state's "stand your ground" law.

But what is the difference between "stand your ground" and self-defense? Action News is getting you answers.

Erick Alfaro is the head instructor of Krav Maga at Karate America. It's a martial arts style of self-defense. He teaches adults in Jacksonville who want to learn how to protect themselves.

"People have that insecurity so they feel its necessary to seek some sort of source or some sort of answer to what if that were to happen to me," said Alfaro.

There have been a lot of questions since George Zimmerman's acquittal about "stand your ground" even though that's a defense Zimmerman didn't use. He claimed self-defense was the reason for shooting Trayvon Martin.

Alfaro told Action News there is a difference. He said in self-defense, the goal is to escape.

"If it's not necessary to engage the best option is to get away because you never know the ultimate intent of the attacker," he said.

But with "stand your ground," you aren't required to retreat. You can stay and fight back. State Rep. Charles McBurney said while the law was just evaluated there may be a new need to clarify it.

"We can certainly take a look at that -- any other laws related to self defense," he told Action News.

Alfaro said cases like Zimmerman and Marissa Alexander -- the woman now serving 20 years after claiming "stand your ground" -- have prompted more people to take his class. He's said it's rewarding to arm them with the tools they need.

"They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks because when they're set in their ways they're set in their ways but I have the privilege of actually changing people and to me that's the greatest feeling in the world," Alfaro said.

Alfaro told Action News the best fight is the one that never happens. He hopes his students never have to utilize the tactics he teaches them.

McBurney said there may also be a need to clarify the rules about what information jurors receive during trials because there was confusion there as well.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

Gunny48 - 7/18/2013 6:31 PM
1 Vote
While I have no argument with the "expert" in general this again ignores the fact that the two parties were already engaged to the point where Zimmerman(according to him)was in fear for his life and fired ONE shot to "get away"; therefore, his "self defense" definition fits this situation. SYG was NOT involved in this case.
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