The shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin by 28-year-old George Zimmerman has brought national attention to "stand your ground" laws and reignited a debate about a similar law in Pennsylvania.

"People can die when you pass stupid laws," said Max Nacheman, director of CeaseFirePA. "Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call and our legislature will start thinking twice."

State Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, disagrees with Nacheman, calling the criticism of Pennsylvania's law "politically motivated" and "really disingenuous."

He noted the Pennsylvania law's standards are different than those in Florida, and, had the shooting occurred here, Zimmerman might have been treated differently.

"Zimmerman would likely ... be in jail right now, pending further investigation, in Pennsylvania," said Perry. "Zimmerman never claimed that the guy produced a weapon of any kind."

Perry was the lead sponsor of House Bill 40, which Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law in June.

The law expanded the state's Castle Doctrine, saying that people could use deadly force outside their home -- without attempting to retreat -- if they are protecting themselves against death, serious injury, kidnapping or rape.

Since the law was passed, York County District Attorney Tom Kearney said there haven't been any cases in York County where a defense attorney invoked the expanded Castle Doctrine.

"I'm expecting them," Kearney said. "They will be coming."

Different laws

Pennsylvania's law is different from Florida's law in several key ways.

That's not an accident.

The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association fought against the original proposal.

"Prosecutors in Florida were saying to us, 'Don't adopt this bill, because of the issues we're now seeing,'" said Kearney.

Florida was the first state in the country to adopt a "stand your ground" law in 2005, according to the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm, which has pushed for the laws.

Perry said he spent several years pushing for such a policy in Pennsylvania.

"We don't want anybody to second guess their own safety if someone is clearly threatening them," Perry said.

In November 2010, then-Gov. Ed Rendell vetoed a proposed expansion of the Castle Doctrine. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association supported that decision.

"Our concern was that was going to leave a lot of guys getting away with murder or other crimes," said Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico, who is the former president of the statewide association.

But the bill eventually signed into law contained several changes that district attorneys requested. Pennsylvania's law requires that the attacker have a gun, a replica of a gun, or "any other weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use."

Florida's law doesn't have that requirement. Instead, it says people can use deadly force if they "reasonably believe it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm."

Pennsylvania's law also states several exceptions. People can't use lethal force if they illegally posses a gun or if the altercation is related to a crime they're committing. And they can't use lethal force against police officers.

"Even as amended, we didn't think it was necessary," said Marsico.

Nacheman, with CeaseFirePA, said there's still ambiguity in the law over what counts as a "weapon readily or apparently capable of lethal use." And he said that the law changes the standard, so that it's too easy for a person who kills someone to claim self defense.

"That really is the fundamental change," Nacheman said.

Wild west, or a right to protect?

The bill passed the state House of Representatives with a 164-37 in April 2011, and it passed the Senate with a 45-5 vote in June.

All of the lawmakers from York County voted in favor of the bill, including state Rep. Eugene DePasquale, D-West Manchester Township.DePasquale said the Florida law "comes pretty close to the line of going too far."

But he said the shooting of Trayvon Martin hasn't made him reconsider his support of Pennsylvania's law.

"From what we know, if anybody had the right to stand their ground it was Trayvon Martin. ... Zimmerman pursued him. That does not give him Castle Doctrine protection," said DePasquale.

State Rep. Dan Frankel, a Democrat whose district includes part of Pittsburgh, voted against the law.

"It creates almost a wild west mentality," Frankel said.

John Shelley II, 62 , of Springettsbury Township was glad to see it pass. He said he was robbed and shot in Florida in 1974, and has legally carried a concealed gun with him since then.

"You have the right to protect yourself, and the Castle Doctrine protects you from frivolous lawsuits," Shelley said. "So that fear is erased."

Support from the National Rifle Association

When Gov. Corbett signed the expanded Castle Doctrine in June of 2011, the National Rifle Association celebrated the news.

"The NRA has led the nationwide movement to pass Castle Doctrine legislation, beginning with Florida in 2005," the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, its lobbying arm wrote, in a news release. "Pennsylvania is the 27th state to adopt this important measure with overwhelming bipartisan support."