Nightly News | March 22, 2012
>> the controversy over the trayvon martin shooting has focused new attention oba florida law called " stand your ground ." nearly half of the states in the country have similar laws of their own on the books. tonight, some of them are getting a closer look. our report from our justice correspondent, pete williams .
>> reporter: the florida law at the center of a civil rights tempest was born in the after' math of a hurricane, after ivan in 2004 , a pensacola man who shot a looter at his house, waited months before learning high wouldn't be prosecute said. nat prompted the ledgislature that allowed florida the first to allow homeowners to use deadly force . it was extend ed anywhere a person has the rights to be. one of the spaunonsors said it was never meant to apply to someone who chases someone else .
>> i don't want to make the mistake of removing protections for law abiding citizens, that we will stand by them and protect them.
>> people can use deadly force if they reasonably fear for their safety. it does away with the usual rule that people who are threatened have a duty to retreat if they can, and florida's law goes one step further, allowing deadly force to stop a serious crime including robbery or burglary of anyone's property.
>> the common law allowed you to use force to defend yourself or your home. it's called the " stand your ground " law but it's really stand someone else 's ground law.
>> 19 other states have similar laws, allowing the use of deadly force outside a home of business. they encourage violent behavior.
>> based on fear and paranoia and the idea of shoot first and ask question later, and vigilantes protecting themselves themselves, and this is a law that encourages that.
>> now they're inspecting the law. pete williams , nbc news, washington.