Exploring America's Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense

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In Florida, the "Stand Your Ground" law allows people to use deadly force when they fear death or great bodily harm. It's one of many similar laws that exist in about half of U.S. states, and it's at the heart of a hearing that's begun in Tampa this week.

The hearing will determine if a police captain, Curtis Reeves, will stand trial for second-degree murder after shooting a citizen in a movie theater in 2014. Reeves claims the shooting was in self-defense.

It was the 2012 killing of black teen Trayvon Martin that brought these laws into the national spotlight, but their origins can be traced back to Colonial times. Harvard researcher Caroline Light says "Stand Your Ground" laws only truly serve the most privileged people in the America, while the most vulnerable members of our population — people of color, women, transgender people — are at the most risk of losing their lives or their freedom as a result of these laws.

Light is the director of undergraduate studies at the Harvard Program for Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is also the author of the book "Stand Your Ground: A History of America's Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense."