Critic of Stand Your Ground laws uses non-SYG cases to bolster argument

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

There are two kinds of states when it comes to self-defense laws: Stand Your Ground states and Duty to Retreat states.

The latter involves you having to spend precious time looking and evaluating whether you can escape a deadly encounter, then having to hope a prosecutor in the cold light of day agrees with you.


The former removes that burden and simply states that you have a right to defend yourself without having to try and get away first.

You still have to be justified in your use of force. That doesn’t change. You have to be faced with what a reasonable person might believe to be a threat to your life.

It shouldn’t be controversial, yet it is. There are a lot of people who seem to think it’s legalized murder. Then we have people like the author of this piece who clearly has an ax to grind on the topic.

After Florida passed the first “stand your ground” law in 2005, several states adopted some form of this legislation that counters two major principles of standard self-defense laws: First, it removes the duty to retreat, which says that a person facing harm or threat must retreat before responding with deadly force in self-defense. Second, it gives any law-abiding citizen the right to defend themselves anywhere they are legally permitted to be.

“There was nothing that was an error about that shooting. My nephew rang the doorbell, he opened up the door, he shot him in the head and said ‘Don’t come back here again,'” said Faith Spoonmore, Ralph Yarl’s aunt.

Shootings like Ralph Yarl’s in Missouri have continued to fuel criticism of the law.

Yarl, a Black teenager, was picking up his younger brothers from a friend’s home but went to the wrong house. While there, he was allegedly shot by the homeowner, Andrew Lester, an 85-year-old White man.

“It harkens back to Trayvon Martin and Ahmad Aubrey and so many of these other tragedies where you had citizens profile and shoot our Black children and the police then let them go home and sleep in their beds at night,” said Ben Crump, a Civil Rights attorney.


Except Trayvon Martin was basically sitting on a guy, bashing his head into the concrete sidewalk. That was a perfectly justified shooting, even if you think George Zimmerman did literally everything wrong up until Martin turned and attacked him.

Ahmad Aubrey’s killing wasn’t a Stand Your Ground case. They chased him down, confronted him, and when he acted in a way that, frankly, many of us would act, he was killed.

And the people involved were convicted.

Conflating either case with Stand Your Ground laws is journalistic malpractice.

The same with Ralph Yarl’s shooting.

From what we know, the shooting was completely unjustified, but even then, that’s a Castle Doctrine discussion, not a Stand Your Ground thing.

Oh, but at least the author has data to back up the assertion that Stand Your Ground is killing people.

A 2022 study of 41 U.S. states found “stand your ground” was associated with an 8% to 11% national increase in monthly homicide rates — that’s about 700 more firearm killings a year.

Except the study basically just used a regression model to try and determine the difference, which means that at most, we’re looking at a corollary relationship, not a causal relationship.


Further, this looks at homicides, not murders. While we often equate the two, a homicide is really just one person killing another. Self-defense killings fall under the umbrella of homicide, even if justified. How many of those 700 killings were in actual self-defense? A lot of people threaten convincingly, even if they don’t intend to act on those threats, so could many of those have been among the 700 deaths?

If so, I’m not exactly losing sleep.

Plus, we have to accept that a lot of self-defense acts by law-abiding citizens don’t result in deaths, so not every act of self-defense facilitated by someone not having to find a way to run away would show up as an additional death. Not all criminal acts that threaten people result in death, either.

So what we may have is a lot more lives being saved than being taken.

And the study in question doesn’t account for that, either intentionally or not.

The truth is, no one should accept any gun study at face value. We’ve seen how they’re all pretty much garbage.

But hey, the media has a bone to pick with responsible gun owners defending themselves, as we saw both during George Zimmerman’s ordeal and with Kyle Rittenhouse’s. They don’t care about the truth, about facts, but about making it more difficult for you to use a gun in self-defense, as opposed to what happens with Stand Your Ground laws.


Of course, then we’ll see stories about why we don’t need guns since they’re so rarely used in self-defense.

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