Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stand your ground

The tragic Trayvon Martin case has cast “Stand Your Ground” laws into the spotlight. In some quarters there is a cry to repeal such laws as an incitement to vigilantism.

That would be a bad call.

Stand Your Ground or “No Duty to Retreat” laws extend so-called Castle Doctrine from your home to any place you have a right to be. In short, if you are assailed, you have the right to defend yourself — to the extent of deadly force if you reasonably believe your life is threatened. You are not obligated to retreat.

In a society of free men and women, which we purport to be, such a doctrine is appropriate and necessary to preserve the absolute right to be secure in your person.

Now, retreating from a bad situation — or avoiding it in the first place — is usually the wisest course of action, legally, morally and tactically. However, the law should not put the onus on the citizen. On the other hand, if you deliberately place yourself in the position of initiating or pursuing and escalating a confrontation, Stand Your Ground should not apply.

No law can be written so as to address every situation absolutely in its every nuance. Ultimately, we must rely on the judgment of police, district attorneys, grand juries, perhaps a jury of one’s peers. Justice, being in the hands of humans, is imperfect.

Stand Your Ground should remain on the books.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. I think we should have stand your ground traffic laws. In a free society I should have the right to go where I want when I want. If someone is about to collide with me, impeding my right to go where I want when I want, I should be able to stand my ground and clear my path to my destination. No retreat, I extend my castle from my house to where I am to where I am going. Only makes sense. So let me get loaded up with weapons and start plowin' the road.

    ...or I could just obey traffic laws, get along with everyone else and try to avoid accidents rather than cause them. Hmmmmmm.

  2. I don't think the problem with the Stand Your Ground law isn't incitement to vigilantism. The problem is the shield to prosecution it sets up. The reason that Trayvon became a huge case was not because Zimmerman decided to be vigilante, but rather because the Stand your Ground law was being employed to PREVENT INVESTIGATION. That is the outrage.

    That someone could be shot dead under unclear circumstances, and the shooter can AVOID INVESTIGATION by invoking stand your ground law. Since it is not a defense in a prosecution, but an immunity from prosecution, crimes simply go uninvestigated.

    Were it not for the public protests, no facts would ever have been forth coming in the Trayvon case because of Stand Your Ground.

    These laws should be Repealed.

  3. Jim,
    While I don't feel I have enough information to make any comment about the tragic Trayvon Martin case other than it's very tragic, I completly agree with your opinion about the “Stand Your Ground” laws. I find comfort in knowing that if someone comes after me with the intent to cause serious bodily harm and I have no other option, that I have the right to defend myself.
    cris converse