Stand Your Ground Laws are Fine

This is a response to NRA Critic's Stand Your Ground Laws are Bad for Society.

1. Stand your ground is simply an addition to the law of self-defense. All it means if someone is threatening your life, you don't have to run away taking the chance your bad guy will chase you or kill another. Self-defense with deadly force is also sensible and easy – if a person reasonably believes in light of the facts and circumstances they are facing imminent death or serious bodily injury, they may use deadly force to defend themselves. That has been the law in this nation for hundreds of years. Whether to exercise self-defense, retreat or be armed are all known as "choices."

2. Can a defendant lie about self-defense and be unjustly acquitted? Yes, just as could a defendant asserting the complete defenses of insanity, accident, entrapment, mistake of fact, and similar affirmative defenses. But such defenses require evidence and can be battled with witnesses, cross-examination, forensic evidence, witnesses, and other tools. That sometimes a defendant is acquitted when he doesn't deserve to be is not a good reason to take away the right of self-defense or any of the other defenses. It just means better investigations and prosecutions.

3. "People who carry guns, especially concealed, loaded ones -- are being treated better by the law than those who don't." People who decide to defend themselves, with a gun or otherwise, are protected by the law. Self-defense doesn't have to be with a firearm. So if a guy comes up and threatens imminent death or serious bodily harm those who have taken the time to protect themselves should turn in their guns and let themselves be killed?

4. "Our society is becoming less civil, more coarse, more violent, and a big reason is the NRA and the gun lobby." Yes, the first sentence is true which is WHY the NRA supports full exercise of the 2d Amendment to those that want to do so. The violence problem as related to guns are not the average lawfully armed citizen. It is those who possess guns illegally or use them to commit crimes. Because of this, citizens have the CHOICE whether to arm themselves. How many articles do you have to read about innocent civilians murdered, robbed or raped? Are there those who are crazy who use guns at schools and work and shoot up the place? Yes, and do you think tightening gun laws will stop that? Criminals, by their definition, don't care what the laws are; that is what makes them criminals.

5. "The liberalization of gun laws has introduced many more guns onto the streets." Incorrect statement. Up until the Gun Control Act of 1964, gun ownership was VERY easy. You could buy guns and ammo through mail order like Lee Harvey did. The laws until then were lax; they have been getting tighter as of late. If it were not for the tightening and over tightening of gun laws, the NRA would be reduced to a whisper. This was so aggressive that in the Supreme Court Heller case, gun opponents said a reserve police officer could not keep a loaded gun in his house. Do you dare support such a prohibition?

6. "SYG encourages aggressive people to use their guns, allegedly in "self-defense." " SYG has no impact whatsoever unless a jury accepts the shooter reasonably believed there was an imminent danger of death or bodily harm. What SYG opponents forget is that if the other guy runs away, that reasonable fear dissipates, doesn't it? Once there is no such reasonable fear, you lose the right to self defense, and without self-defense, SYG is meaningless. Again, SYG is not a pursuit statute, it is "you don't have to turn your back and get shot in the head runaway" statute. (We'll look at the actual law in a minute, something this post doesn't ask you to do.)

7. "Obviously, in many of these cases there are no witnesses (or maybe all the witnesses are friends of the aggressor/killer) -- so after the person pursued is killed, the story will be -- oh, he turned and faced me and I thought he was going to attack me, i thought i saw a gun, I killed him.... " This is a real possibility in EVERY self-defense case. SYG does not change this possibility one bit. Anyone can claim self-defense. The issue is whether you got the facts to support it.

8. "And, if you aren't packing heat too -- you are at a disadvantage, cause if you get in a dispute, any fight, and you both feel threatened by the other guy -- well, you need to be prepared to kill the other person before he or she kills you." If you are not armed, you walk away. If the other guy pursues, you wish you had a gun.

9. The case that "might end in acquittal." The law has always been, before SYG, that one make seek a peaceful, but unfriendly, interview. If one escalates that interview into deadly force, that person does so at their peril. This has nothing to do with SYG. Red herring.

10. "SYG he is authorized to kill the man since he felt threatened." Absolutely, positively not true. SYG does not authorize the use of deadly force. It only says you don't have to retreat.

11. "All he has to show is that he felt threatened during the argument -- if so, SYG allows deadly force in "self - defense."" Misstatement of the law of self-defense. See paras 1 and 2.

12. One theme throughout this not is your quotes about being "threatened" intimating that all one has to do is make a claim and they walk. Simply untrue. Is self-defense used in trials by clever defense lawyers getting over on prosecutors and juries? Yes. Does that mean we eliminate the law of self-defense? God, I hope not otherwise shooting a person who is beating you with a crowbar, cutting you with a knife, and raping you would be murder.

Here is the pertinent part of FL's you don't have to run around law:

776.013c A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place i.e., in their dwelling where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Comments for Stand Your Ground Laws are Fine:

Yes, but overall SYG encourages violence - by NRA Critic

You raise excellent points. I think the truth is that both sides of the SYG debate can bring up examples where the law worked well and others where it didn't. My point is that overall the law encourages violent behaviour -- at least more than the law as it stood before SYG.

All of the questionable cases involve situations where the person invoking the law (the killer) caused the confrontation by aggressively pursuing the person he killed. I think it's dangerous and simply wrong to encourage that behavior. I don't think there are many, if any, cases before SYG where someone was convicted of a crime for shooting someone in self defense.

I guess the point of the SYG law is to fix that problem -- but, can anyone find a single case where the facts were a person shot someone in self-defense and was convicted of a crime? If so, I'd probably look more favorably on the law.

I'm trying to look at the big picture and effect on society overall. You talk about our gun laws being restrictive -- yet, the reality is that they are not -- at least not when compared to other civilized countries. Yet, we have more gun deaths than they do and more violent crime. You will probably say the issues of gun deaths are unrelated to gun control policy. I think that doesn't meet a common sense test.

I have no problem with the castle doctrine and not having to retreat in your home. On the other hand, we have examples where it seems it was used to allow the person to shoot to kill someone he hadn't even seen (like through a front door). Maybe they are making noises outside your door, or just opening the door -- can you shoot and kill them without ever seeing them? That seems reckless and it's this recklessness that SYG seems to make easier. All of this just leads to more and more mistaken killings -- something we already have too much of.

Many who defend gun rights talk about the extensive training and background checks they receive before using a gun. Great, that's exactly the kind of "gun control" I support and the NRA opposes.

In fact, an Al Qaeda spokesman recently said:

"America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

Do you agree with the NRA, which opposes background checks for automatic assault rifle purchases?

NRA opposes background checks.

We have enough gun restrictions - by Anonymous

A discussion of individual cases, especially those not yet at verdict, is a waste of time because we do NOT KNOW the reason for the jury's decision. For every suspected travesty where someone should have been convicted one can come up where the shooter should have been acquitted. I will not engage in that endless speculation. Instead I will look at the law and how it is designed to work. I cannot account for how lawyers and juries apply a law; how they apply or misapply it doesn't change whether it is a good law unless it is unclear. That is not the case with at least FL's self-defense and SYG laws.

I would not pursue IF I knew I was completely safe not to. But, what guarantee do I have the threat will not attack me again after fleeing? Did the threat move to a better position so he can ambush me? The viciousness and senseless killings by today's criminals includes killing innocent civilians because they are pissed, to silence witnesses, because they think it is cool, because they have been stood up to, it is what their heroes (gangsters and hoods) do, or just because they think they have been disrespected.

And as I said, once the threat is gone (he ran) I am no longer in reasonable fear of IMMINENT death or serious bodily harm. Once that condition does not exist, the shooter has no right to self-defense making SYG not relevant. In other words, SYG doesn't give the shooter any extra right to shoot; it only says he doesn't have to run away.

OK, society. You cannot change several facts. First, if you change the gun laws restricting gun ownership, law abiding citizens will comply, criminals will not, and we have deprived citizens the ability and right to protect themselves. You will make it a crime holiday with armed criminals doing whatever they want without fear of getting shot or captured. We do live in a violent society. Whose fault is that?

Our laws are probably less restrictive than many "civilized nations" but so what? Our situation today is that our criminals are well armed unlike many countries. Take the guns away from law abiding citizens and what do you have? Anarchy in the form of free reign by armed criminals (and those ATF gives to Mexican drug dealers.) Show me how taking guns away from citizens reduces crime.

What more gun restrictions needed? - by Anonymous

Continued from above:

Quoting aLQaeda on the law of the US? Really? Even wiki has identified the flaws in the statement. It is not lawful to sell or possess ANY fully automatic weapon without FIRST having an ATF permit to do so. It is illegal to transfer a fully automatic to anyone unless they have the permit, even at gun shows. There is more disinformation on gun show sales you are victim to: First, the only ones that can sell guns without a background check are those who do NOT HAVE an FFL and who "only make "occasional" sales within their state of residence." This is really hobbyists because anyone who sells any appreciable number of firearms must have an FFL.

Notwithstanding he Gun Show Loophole, here is what wiki says: "Presently, 17 states regulate private firearm sales at gun shows. Seven states require background checks on all gun sales at gun shows ….. Four states …. require background checks on all handgun, but not long gun, purchasers at gun shows. Six states require individuals to obtain a permit to purchase handguns that involves a background check ….. Certain counties in Florida require background checks on all private sales of handguns at gun shows. The remaining 33 states do not restrict private, intrastate sales of firearms at gun shows in any manner.

Now as to my views on gun control:

  1. Keep the current 18 USC 922(g) restrictions.
  2. ENFORCE those restrictions to include the one about mental disabilities.
  3. Very liberal permission about guns in homes, places of business, and locked in cars.
  4. Up to states to regulate open and concealed carry.
  5. Any business owners can deny citizens the ability to carry in their place of business.
  6. No guns in schools to include universities. No guns in bars or that does more than % of their business in alcohol sales.
  7. Other reasonable restrictions.
  8. Require background checks on gun show sales.

What more restrictive gun laws would you suggest.

The NRA opposes your reasonable restrictions - by NRA Critic

I think your restrictions sound pretty reasonable, but I think the NRA opposes some of them and so in many states some of the things you support are not the law. because the NRA opposes them, so do virtually all republican politicians, and it seems republican voters as well. those are things i'm most concerned about. Tell me if you think the NRA is good with all the restrictions you suggested and I"ll need to research that.

We keep going back and forth on SYG -- I can see the points you make. but, you don't seem to acknowledge my main point which is that SYG allows for aggressive pursuit of someone, which could easily be perceived as threatening and suddenly we find ourselves with two people, both "standing their ground" both thinking the other is the aggressor and frankly both could kill the other and be deemed innocent based on the law. This situation would not happen under traditional notions of duty to retreat. Right?

Now you said that it's against the law to sell an assault rifle without a permit, later you said 33 states don't restrict firearm sales at gun shows and at another point you said that those who sell only periodically aren't covered. Can you clarify? In particular is the restriction on automatic rifle sales documented on maybe the atf website, I'll look, buy you may know. finally, i assume none of this applies to semi-automatic. so semi-automatic sales at gun shows are good to go?

The point in quoting al quaeda was to show how dangerous our lax gun laws are. that was not a commentary on our gun laws. it was a message sent out by al quada urging sympathizers to take advantage of those laws and go buy guns.

NRA may be paranoid for good reason - by Anonymous

I have no clue what the extent of the NRA platform is. I believe that they are paranoid about protecting gun rights, but even paranoid people have enemies. They see the gun control act, Brady bill, the national firearms act, Heller v DC (saying a reserve police officer can't have a loaded gun in his own home), and using SYG and other cases as a segue or excuse to erode gun rights as threatening their position – and I think they are right. We have a president that mocked those that "cling to their guns" and that too doesn't help.

They see support at the UN for international restrictions on gun rights (a possible resolution) as also a threat. I think their concern is well-founded. The foes of gun rights are just as worthy as the NRA is for gun rights. They just are more stealthy.

As to aggressively pursuing, I have to disagree.

  1. Once the threat is gone (danger is not imminent etc.), the right of self-defense is lost, and when that is gone, SYG is irrelevant. In other words, if the other guy runs away, you can't pursue him and claim deadly force because you cannot articulate imminent death etc. Stand your ground just means YOU don't have to run away. It does not confer a right to pursue. (Why can't folks just read the statute and see that?)
  2. One loses their right to self-defense when they provoke. So, if Jack provokes Jill, Jack loses his right to self-defense.
  3. If you impose a duty to retreat, that it places upon the person asserting self-defense to justify why he/she did not retreat. It seems to me the one doing the threatening should be doing the explaining.

Automatic weapons. NO ONE, anywhere in the US (such as a gun show, in their house, at a gun shop, or in a strip club) can lawfully possess, sell, or transfer a fully automatic weapon unless it is registered and the heavy tax is paid. The gun show loop hole does NOT get around this FEDERAL law. (I am constantly befuddled about those who talk about gun laws who don't know there are actually statutes on this. See the wiki link at the end.) The loophole applies to those handguns, shotguns and long guns that are NOT fully automatic.

The quote was this: "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?" What is wrong about the statement is this:

  • You cannot buy a fully automatic firearm of any kind anywhere I the US without a background check, permit, and tax receipt.
  • Many states DO require background checks, and MOST dealers at gun shows are FFL holders requiring them to comply with federal law NO MATTER WHERE they sell their guns.

Again, you say our gun laws are lax. How would YOU tighten them up?

Read the law! - by Anonymous

Right to pursue. READ THE DANG SYG LAW and tell me where you see a right to pursue anyone who has threatened you and run away? It just says you don't have to run away. Period.

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

SYG is kindling for the fire -- bad public policy - by Anonymous

To me it's all about the dangerous position stand your ground encourages you to be in. without SYG you are looking for a peaceful way out of confrontations because legally you should. with SYG there is a mindshift that says, hey, i have a right to be here and i'm not leaving. in an emotional situation, with everyone in that state of mind, that's like kindling for the fire, one wrong move and the match is lit. it's just the wrong way for us to go and i think the cases coming out of florida are showing that.

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