[JURIST] A new so-called shoot first (alternatively, "stand your ground") law took effect in Georgia on Saturday allowing state residents to use deadly force to respond to threats in public places with no duty to retreat. The law, which easily passed through the Republican-controlled state legislature beginning with the state Senate [JURIST report] in March, also frees shooters who act in self-defense from all civil liability. Zach Ragbourn, speaking for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence [advocacy website] said the law is phenomenally dangerous because it encourages people to use guns without hesitation, but the National Rifle Association [advocacy website] maintains it is necessary to protect innocent citizens from becoming victims on the streets and in the courtroom. Florida passed a similar law [JURIST report; Brady Campaign anti-legislation advocacy website] last year. Aside from Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and South Dakota all have adopted similar laws, and like bills are pending in 16 other states [Stateline.org report].
Several other laws also took effect in Georgia Saturday, including a controversial law preventing registered sex offenders from working, living, or loitering within 1,000 feet of where children congregate. The full enforcement of that law was blocked [JURIST report] late last week by a federal judge as regards eight plaintiffs challenging the legislation who say it violates several constitutional provisions and at least one federal statute, and that it would require all but a few of the state's offenders to move. A law allowing displays of the Ten Commandments at courthouses also took effect. AP has more.