Pretty much everyone who reads Bearing Arms on a regular basis is a fan of Stand Your Ground laws. The idea that there’s a duty to retreat from an attacker is idiotic, especially when you consider that doing so may well create more of a risk to life and limb.

However, it’s important to remember what Stand Your Ground laws don’t cover. For example, this case:

On scene, officers found a man inside a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds, with the owner of the vehicle nearby, according to North Charleston Police Dept. spokesperson Spencer Pryor.

The owner told police he learned his allegedly stolen vehicle was in the area, and went to Celestial Court to confront the person who was found shot in the vehicle.

Police say the vehicle’s owner fired a gun at the person he found inside his vehicle. That individual later died from injuries he suffered in the shooting, police say.

Now, based on what we’re seeing here in the news–which doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story–this is probably not a viable example of stand your ground laws in use. There doesn’t appear to be any risk to anyone’s life. While it’s not uncommon for burglars to murder people, it’s not that common for car thieves to do so.

Without a specific threatening action with some kind of weapon, it seems hard to say this is a justified use of lethal force.

Another example that’s a little trickier:

Weiss claims that a male passenger got out of the vehicle and became aggressive. At that point, Weiss told police he returned to his Subaru and retrieved his phone and a handgun. Weiss said the Cavalier moved to the south side of 31st St. NE before the driver, Rahim, got out of the vehicle and became confrontational.

According to a passenger in Rahim’s vehicle, Weiss got out of his car after the crash “as if he wished to fight.”
The passenger also said that Rahim got very close to Weiss, “puffing out his chest” before Weiss pulled a gun. According to the passenger, Rahim told Weiss, “I ******* dare you to do it” once the gun was pulled.

The passenger claims that neither he nor Rahim touched Weiss before the shooting.

Why is this tricky? Well, for one thing, there were two people.

A fistfight, even one you’re losing badly, isn’t necessarily grounds for pulling a gun. But if you’re facing multiple threats? Well, then maybe.

However, we don’t have any information of the passenger acting aggressively, he simply exited the vehicle. Absent an actual threat, it appears that this might not be a justifiable case of self-defense.

And that’s really the rub here. You see, Stand Your Ground laws don’t change what is and isn’t considered a threat to your life or someone else’s. Those kinds of things are still pretty much the same.

What a Stand Your Ground law does is make it so you’re not required to run away because a criminal threatens you. It means you don’t have to give up ground to an attacker.

It doesn’t give anyone a license to kill.

Now, what I say about the above cases is just my opinion, the opinion of a guy who isn’t a lawyer and hasn’t played one on TV. I’m just someone who has done a fair bit of research on this matter. It’s also an opinion based on media reports, reports that may or may not be reliable or complete. My opinion based on these examples shouldn’t be construed as pronouncing guilt on anyone. After all, lacking complete evidence, it’s impossible to say one way or another.

All I’m trying to do is provide a couple of examples to make sure people understand when not to draw that firearm and pull the trigger.