Stand Your Ground laws aren’t what many people claim. Rather than allow you to just shoot anyone you think is scary, they simply remove the duty to retreat from a real and actual threat to an individual’s life. Instead of having to look around and hope they’ll have time to react if there’s no exit, it removes that from the equation completely.
Many states don’t have such a law. They want people to waste precious time during an armed encounter to try and get away instead of meeting force with force.
In Minnesota, though, some GOP candidates want to change that.
Some Republican candidates for governor suggested Wednesday that Minnesota should expand legal protections for people who use guns to defend themselves amid a rise in violent crime in the Twin Cities.
“At some basic level we’re going to have to take charge of our own safety,” former state legislator Scott Jensen said during a debate at Minnesota State University Mankato. “We need to have a ‘stand your ground’ bill so that if you are minding your own business and you find yourself in harm’s way, I don’t want you having to prove that you tried to retreat. Take care of business.”
Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, echoed support for a “stand your ground” law, while pointing out that Jensen had proposed gun control legislation during his time at the Capitol.
I like what I’m hearing, though if Jensen did propose universal background checks, that’s troubling. Still, Stand Your Ground laws would be a good thing for Minnesota, especially as places like Minneapolis continue to experience near-record amounts of violence. As it stands now, despite that violence, a resident of Minneapolis still has to try and get away from an armed attacker if at all possible.
Now, this sounds like a good idea, and I do think that in most cases, folks are better off trying to get away if they can. That doesn’t mean I think they should be forced to look for an exit, especially when sometimes that may not seem practical.
See, the problem is that a “duty to retreat” can be used to prosecute someone after the fact. Maybe you didn’t realize that gate in the alley behind you only appeared to be locked. Maybe you didn’t know the door to your left was only a little stuck, but not locked. But a prosecutor coming in after the fact may determine something completely different, and that’s the problem.
Stand Your Ground laws remove that.
Instead, you need to be faced with a legitimate threat to your life or, in many places, the life of another. There’s no chance for an overzealous prosecutor to come in after the fact and Monday morning quarterback the whole thing. “Yes, well, they could have scaled this wall like a ninja. Then they could have escaped, so nope, I won’t consider this one justifiable.”
It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, we still think we should make people run away from criminals rather than hold their ground. Fighting back is the only thing these people would understand anyway. They understand greater force. They’re usually cowards, anyway, who will run from the first moment it becomes clear their prey is able to fight back.
But if people have to run, it just emboldens them, which is why ever state needs a Stand Your Ground law.