21 March 2016

'Stand Your Ground' Laws Shoud Be Strengthened

Stand Your Ground
Several states in the U.S. have adopted some form of Stand Your Ground law, according to the American Bar Association. Ten states have introduced bills to repeal or scale back their Stand Your Ground laws this year, and 13 states have pending legislation to strengthen or enact such laws.

Florida was the first state to enact such legislation, in 2005, under then Gov. Jeb Bush, who is currently a Republican presidential candidate. Florida essentially immunizes a person from criminal prosecution or civil action, provided he proves the use of force was necessary to prevent death or serious harm.

For years, much of the United States has followed the "castle doctrine," which basically holds that a person’s home is her castle, which gives that person the right to defend her home through the use of deadly force—and without legal consequences. The National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council — a group of conservative lawmakers—began a push for legislation that ultimately would upend the castle doctrine.

Stand Your Ground laws provide more latitude to invoke self-defense as grounds for killing someone posing an imminent threat. Typically, such laws permit the use of deadly force outside the home against a perpetrator, regardless of whether the perpetrator is armed.

Stand Your Ground advocates—particularly the gun industry—argue that the laws are necessary protection from violent criminals. But critics—gun control groups, civil rights activists, and even some law enforcement officials—maintain that they fuel a trigger-happy culture. The renewed debate over Stand Your Ground comes at a remarkable point in our thinking about guns: For the first time in nearly two decades, a majority of Americans say it’s important to protect citizens’ right to own guns.

In states with Stand Your Ground laws, justifiable homicides have increased 85 percent.

The following states have adopted stand-your-ground laws: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts (though the term is used very loosely there), Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Other states (Iowa, Virginia, and Washington) have considered stand-your-ground laws of their own.