As an aside…

by w3woody


Florida judge strikes down one procedural aspect of Florida ‘stand your ground’ law — but the basic principle remains

Now, the substantive duty-to-retreat / stand-your-ground debate: A bit fewer than 20 states follow a legal rule called the “duty to retreat” — if (a) you reasonably fear death, serious bodily injury, etc., and (b) you are outside your home, and (c) you can avoid the risk of death, serious bodily injury, etc. with perfect safety by retreating, then you must retreat, or you will lose your right to use deadly self-defense (i.e., your use of deadly self-defense will be criminal homicide, perhaps even murder). A bit more than 30 states adopt a rule called “stand your ground”: There, someone who is in a place where he is legally entitled to be does not need to retreat before using deadly force (assuming he reasonably fears death, serious bodily injury, etc.), even if there is an opportunity to retreat with perfect safety.

Thus, say that you are sitting in a restaurant, talking to your friends. You get into an argument, and someone takes out a knife and says, “If you don’t leave right now, I’m going to kill you!” (Maybe he doesn’t like your race or religion, or maybe he doesn’t like your dating his ex-girlfriend, or maybe you have indeed wronged him in the past, but are lawfully where you are right now.) Say that you reasonably believe that he’s about to stab you, and say that you believe that, by leaving, you will indeed avoid the threat. You decide to stay, he lunges at you, and you shoot him. In a stand-your-ground state, you have committed no crime. In a duty-to-retreat state, you are guilty of homicide, maybe of murder.

The chief argument in favor of the duty to retreat is that it can prevent needless bloodshed, whether of the threateners, of people whose intentions are misunderstood, of bystanders who get caught in the crossfire, or by people who get involve in the feuds or gang wars that can be triggered by such killings. The chief argument in favor of stand your ground is that people shouldn’t be forced to give up their liberty, by being pushed out of places where they have every right to be, because a thug is threatening them.

My own opposition to “duty to retreat” comes from the fact that, generally, when the police arrive, they’re arriving after the fact.

And by having a “stand your ground” law, it makes the question if you were actually able to retreat legally moot.

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