Standing Firm for Stand Your Ground
Since June 2013, I’ve probably done over 50 interviews discussing Stand Your Ground (SYG) laws. It never ceases to amaze me how the concept, and often the plain language of the statutes, are distorted. I guess that is part of politics and sensationalism of some formal and informal media sources.
I’ve read many SYG laws. Although the wording may differ by state, the essential concepts are the same: If a person is in a place they have a lawful right to be, the person is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and the person is not an aggressor in a confrontation, the person has no legal duty to retreat when confronted with a criminal act or force.
SYG laws simply say you do not have a legal duty to retreat under the circumstances outlined above. SYG laws do not change the law for the use of force generally or for the use of deadly force. As I have said many times, a SYG law provides about 20% of the analysis in a use of deadly force situation. The SYG law merely provides the answer of whether the person was obligated to run or walk away prior to using force. The rest of the analysis falls back on the reasonableness of the force, the reasonable subjective belief of the person using force, and the actions of the person against whom force was used.
I have analyzed the laws of the use of deadly force, taught the use of deadly force for over 20 years both as a classroom instructor and on the firing range, and represented LEOs who have used deadly force and been shot in the line of duty. I am also a believer in freedom and the United States Constitution. Finally, I have walked a beat and arrested the types of bad guys that the pundits discuss from the safety of their desks. It from this perspective that I firmly believe the law should NEVER impose a legal obligation to retreat on any law abiding citizen.
LEOs who believe SYG laws only apply to private citizens are mistaken. A legal duty to retreat imposed by statute will affect LEOs as well. It would be a tragedy if the LEOs who respond when a citizen calls 911 are forced to add an obligation to retreat to the already complex decision of whether or not to use deadly force.