ABA Journal


American Bar Association

Do ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws make society safer, or more dangerous? ABA holds hearing

May 3, 2013, 08:02 pm CDT


Are these those kinds of "hearings" where they carefully invite people who publicly subscribe to their same preconceived biases, so they can all pat each other on the back about how smart they are, then send some BS "resolution" to the House of Delegates?

Why not just trot out Laurel Bellows again, to tell the world how we're all against stand your ground laws because she says so?

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 03, 10:44 pm CDT

If you are beating someone, robbing them, trying to carjack them, mugging them or breaking into their home it is foreseeable that you will be killed. These acts require an affirmative and unmistakable act on the part of the aggressor. Why not put everyone on notice that if you do these things your life could be forfeit? Is the force always proportional to the threat, perhaps not, but the nonaggressor being robbed, assaulted or killed is far less proportional to their moral culpability which is often zero. In the Martin case, if Martin was assaulting Zimmerman, better he die than Zimmerman suffer serious physical harm. Obviously it would have been optimal for both to have survived, but an aggressor dying is better than a serious injury to a victim. Each case should be viewed individually and the race mongering idiots who pass for elites need to keep their thoughts to themselves.

By Chris on 2013 05 04, 4:35 am CDT

If we wait until the attacker is actually proven to have committed a fatal or maiming attack, there is no need for a stand your ground law - or any other law favoring the innocent.

By Chase Hamil on 2013 05 04, 6:02 am CDT

The entire premise of these hearings and the groups providing input is absurd. SYG has no racial component worthy of investigating, except when black defendants perceived to be up to no good are denied the application of the law by a white judge. We do not need all state laws to be the same in matters of self defense.

SYG laws do not take lives or save lives. The studies cited are junk science. SYG statutes protect people (who have used force in self defense or defense of others) from inflamed citizenry, and overzealous and idiotic prosecutors and police.

Blacks and black organizations should be first on line to support SYG laws, not be against them. Just like gun control, something invented to keep guns from blacks, blacks miss the point entirely. The ABA has little reason to get involved in this. I terminated my ABA membership years ago and have never regretted it. Just a left-wing pandering organization now, no longer interested in liberty and justice.

The ABA is not qualified to undertake the task at hand and will only get the subjective, emotional input of those who misunderstand or don't even read the statute and case law of their state. These are people that are simply against the natural right of others to protect themselves. Their voices, like "victims", are not based on intellect and knowledge of the law and should be discounted entirely.

And yes, let's file frivolous lawsuits against state laws duly enacted which clearly have no constitutional aspects needing review. Sanctions anybody? Wake up America and ABA.

By Steven M. Harris on 2013 05 04, 1:04 pm CDT

Note the previous April Fools' Day story in which comments and coverage in the previous "hearing" were so completely one-sided that we were told anyone who does not oppose stand your ground laws should give up their bar card. See:

This is just more manipulation by a small group of ABA leftists and racists, still trying to work this silliness into a posture where some ABA officer can flit over to a congressional committee and falsely testify that the ABA membership is politically opposed to stand your ground laws. Enough already!

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 04, 2:42 pm CDT

Another Stalinian hearing. No suspense on the outcome.

By Fmb on 2013 05 04, 5:00 pm CDT

A sham of a farce of a mockery of two shams of a farce.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 04, 6:44 pm CDT

SYG isn't an issue in the Trayvon Martin case.

By Jason on 2013 05 04, 8:47 pm CDT

Why do we have to make this about race SYG is not a racial thing it's about self defense no matter what color a person is

By James on 2013 05 05, 1:55 am CDT

Unfounrtunatly the ABA once again shows us more one sided, extremely low in detail position. What is this? Is this the level of news we have degraded to? I understand why the article was published, the ABA has made their position clear on this matter (ABA, not its members). However, I could have appreciated if the ABA Journal had gone out of their way and did real objective news and put one paragraph stating the opposing position. They seem to be attempting to make a complex matter into a simple "stand your ground is terrible." Than again, should I expect different from a group that has already stated a gun-control position? It seems they now try to get their members to stand with them, no thanks, I would rather stand my ground.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 05 05, 12:12 pm CDT

I tend to agree that this is an exercise in futility and the panel may be biased. However, I take issue with Mr. McLeod's use of the term racists. My wife's family is from Latin America and I have two nieces who like the President of the United States are of mixed African and European ancestry. I honestly believe that these laws are used to justify homicides that would not be deemed justifiable if the dead person were white. There is no evidence that Mr. Martin was armed. Why then was a gun used to terminate his life? Even if a fist fight had erupted, in what way does that implicate a threat of imminent death, and why would not the mere display of a firearm have terminated the confrontation? Putting aside what I think about that case, these laws and the argument that every Tom, Dick and Harry should be carrying a gun take what would have been shoving matches and fist fights and turns them into homicides.

By George Sly on 2013 05 05, 4:47 pm CDT

The law is a racially neutral one that enables persons to defend themselves against criminal aggressors, without first being obligated to attempt escape. I believe this has become necessary as a corollary of firearms proliferation, as there is no safe or practical method of retreating from an aggressor armed with a firearm. I further believe that the ABA's implicit assumption that criminal aggressors will disproportionately consist of racial minorities is a racist assumption, and so I call it as I see it.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 05, 8:38 pm CDT


Just because something may appear racially neutral on its face does not mean that it actually is in practice.

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 06, 1:02 am CDT

Here's the thing: If you assume the law lends itself to abuse because you assume defendants will lie and that juries and courts will believe them out of racial animus, there is no new risk. Defendants can lie without stand your ground laws. They only have to lie about one additional element (that they tried unsuccessfully to retreat). If you are assuming the dishonest defendant and the racist jury and court that acquit out of racial animus, you have 100% of the problem already, irrespective of stand your ground laws. There is no rational argument that stand your ground laws even could have any incremental impact.

Additionally, if the ABA position is based on assumptions that courts and juries throughout the country are racist, this silly claptrap with attacks on stand your ground laws is a total red herring, ignoring the real problem, and the ABA is simply fiddling while Rome burns. But then, that's more or less what you can look for from ineffectual, leftist, armchair intellectuals.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 06, 3:54 am CDT

@14: "ABA position is based on assumptions that courts and juries throughout the country are racist,"

Nah, the stats back that up.

By EsqinAustin on 2013 05 06, 1:42 pm CDT

My understanding (grated, crim law was a few years ago now) is that in most states you have the right to meet deadly force with deadly force - that's the definition of self defense. Stand your ground seems to take that further, and make it possible to use deadly force when it isn't clear your life is in jeopardy. To me, the current self-defense law covers the idea that, if your life is in danger, you can defend - so no need for stand your ground laws, which just open up possible abuses (and, I might note, those abuses could be based on anything, not just race). While I agree that it's too simplistic to see this as a racisim issue, I think the SYG laws are concerning on a number of levels and require public debate and deep thought.

By RecentGrad on 2013 05 06, 3:56 pm CDT

This video by Massad Ayoob at the Cato Institute sums up my opinion on this subject:

Pasted from <>

By Pacific on 2013 05 06, 3:58 pm CDT

@16 - I believe SYG laws do not allow deadly force in the absence of a threat of death or serious injury; rather, the laws merely remove the requirement that one must demonstrate an inability to retreat prior to the use of that deadly force. I agree with you that this issue is not clear-cut, though I think the relationship of racism to SYG is way overblown thanks in part to some demagoguery surrounding the Zimmerman case. Still, that case highlights important policy questions. When should the use of deadly force be justified? If someone has a clear path of retreat, and instead kills a perceived aggressor, should that be viewed as acceptable? Remember, deadly force under the law is permitted if one is in reasonable fear of death or serious harm, not if threatened by actual death or serious harm. Given the stakes at issue, it might make sense to require someone with a path of retreat to do so before taking another's life (and thereby decreasing the chance that an innocent person will be killed by mistake).

One thing I have trouble with with respect to SYG is, is a threat of imminent death or serious harm really objectively reasonable if it can be readily avoided by retreating?

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 06, 5:25 pm CDT

@ 17 Pacific

Very interesting video, and I do agree support the SYG laws. I feel obligated to mention that there will always be loopholes in self-defense situations. There will always be those cases where the line between a crime and self-defense is blurred. I believe every law can always have improvements from a theoretical standpoint, but total abolishment of the SYG laws are not, in my opinion, the correct move.


The SYG laws allow a person to stand their ground before having to run. As you mentioned, a person, in my opinion, should run before using deadly force, but similar to a castle doctrine situation, I person should not be obligated by the law. These type of situations happen very fast, and everyone's adrenaline is pumping, so if a man shoots a perceived aggressor I do not believe the court should fine or jail the victim because he had had a way to flee easily, even if he had not seen it at the time. If a person wants to flee it is his choice to evaluate the situation at the time it takes place.

Just the same as the castle doctrine, I would not want a homeowner to have to, at the moment someone is in their home, to have to make sure the court would not charge him based on a way he might have been able to leave. It is up to the homeowner and the homeowner should be able to know that as long as he can justify reasonable "fear of life or great bodily harm" that he will be covered under the law. Taking this situation and applying it to, not only a castle (home) but also any place a person has the right to be, is a good move. Hope this helps!

Sorry if this reads somewhat choppy; All mistakes are courtesy of my IPhone.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 05 06, 5:56 pm CDT

A point mentioned once or twice above bears some repeating --

Violence in the real world bears little resemblance to the Hollywood drivel most Americans seem to expect. Real world violence happens quickly, and with little/no chance to do much... either to run away, or to defend yourself. It is fast, almost faster than you can imagine. And that, kids, is why so many eyewitnesses to a street fight, or a shooting, are confused. Uh... say what... what did just happen?

Try an experiment and you will see how this works. Attend a martial arts class and volunteer [heh, heh, heh] to have one or more of the students attack you. Now, here, YOU have all the advantages, kiddo, knowing that an attack is definitely coming. You even know who is going to do it, and more or less how it is going to happen. Like, they are likely to kick you, or strike you with a hand/elbow/knee. Rubber knives (never the real thing) might be used, but even fake 'Blue Gun' type stand-in weapons are going to be considered unsporting.

Now, after you have picked your bruised and bleeding tush up off the floor, let's ramp up the realism. This is a real world drill done by my former Tae Kwon Do instructor. Stand in the middle of a circle, the students being on all sides of you. Someone is going to attack you -- but you don't know who, or exactly when. In fact, just to make things interesting, you may well be attacked by more than one someone! And again, they may, or may not, have some sort of weapon.

The anticipating is agony, the execution is worse.

By now, you are seriously hurt, kids. But since you were a guest, it's unlikely that anyone in this nice group of folks, who are much like you, by the way, is really going to try to punch your lights out.

Of course, it's not that way on the street. There, the aggressors love to kick your face in once you are down. They use clubs, knives, and guns too... real guns... and so it gets to be quite interesting, quite fast.

Now, have we learned anything? Like how silly the debate over stand your ground really is? All the new law does is to take away a bone from the Legal Beagles who love to second guess this sort of tragedy with pointless prosecutions, as well as ambulance chasing lawsuits (e.g., the armed burglar who is shot by the homeowner, who then sues the homeowner for damages...).

The real lesson is -- unless your sorry *&^ is on the line, you will never know how quickly these decisions have to be made. It really is The Quick and the Dead.

But, as usual, empathy is in short supply, and so we have the debate, complete with what appears to be a phony set up of pseudo experts, driven to arrive at the politically correct answer.

By SavannahGuy on 2013 05 06, 7:47 pm CDT

@19 and 20 - I don't know if the "attacks tend to be quick" point really is relevant to justify SYG laws. After all, if there is a quick attack, there would be no reasonable opportunity to retreat before using deadly force. SYG law or not, deadly force would be justifiable as self-defense.

@19 - I can see a common sense rationale for the Castle doctrine: you shouldn't have to retreat from your home in any circumstance. I do not know that the same justification applies outside of the home, especially if it can come at a cost of a (perhaps even completely innocent) life.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 06, 7:58 pm CDT


If it is truly an innocent life I would how they learn that in court. However; on the street the obligation to flee should not be a requirement (remember even without the SYG laws self-defense would still apply). Obviously there is a disagreement on this part.

I honestly believe it depends on who you ask. I don't think anyone should have to be obligated to flee, remember, most people are not lawyers and do not know the full regulations of the law. Just having to take such a thing into account could be a deadly waiting period.

Everyone, regardless of the law, will have to prove they were "in fear of themselves or great bodily harm" but I believe no one should be obligated to flee, regardless if they could have.

As to what constitutes as reasonable "fear of life or great bodily harm" is another story of which I do not know where I stand.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 05 06, 8:18 pm CDT

Regardless of what law is in place, self defense will always be a messy business, and I don't really believe change the fleeing obligation will really change possible racial self defense issue.

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 05 06, 8:20 pm CDT

@22 - I am not too sure what your first sentence is getting at, but to clarify my point about an innocent person being killed by self-defense:

Self-defense, whether standard or SYG, requires a reasonable fear that one is in danger of death or serious harm (or some such terminology). One need not demonstrate that the person that was killed was actually a threat; only that the killer reasonably perceived that person to be a threat. There can be (and I'm sure there have been) cases where a perfectly innocent person was mistakenly, though reasonably, believed to be threatening someone else, and was killed as a result of that mistake.

Requiring retreat where there is a *reasonable* opportunity to do so would significantly reduce the cases where an innocent person might be killed. SYG, by removing that requirement, makes such unwarranted (though legally justifiable) deaths more likely.

It's been pointed out that many attacks take place in split seconds. Therefore, someone likely to use deadly force probably will do so in a pressing situation if they can; I doubt that a no-SYG legal environment will significantly increase the risk to people who would otherwise defend themselves, because they instead of acting they consider running as an option.

In sum, in my view, SYG laws seem to increase the likelihood of mistaken/unnecessary lethal force without significantly improving the ability of anyone to defend him/herself.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 06, 8:34 pm CDT

I am OK with making legally justifiable deaths more likely. Most often, the police only get to a scene in time to pick up the pieces, overgentrification has substantially narrowed the scope of available state punishments, and now we have large states freeing dangerous felons because they are out of prison space. Lethal self-defense may be the only remaining hope of preserving some vestige of an ordered society. Slowly, it would tend to cull criminal aggressors from the population, preventing also their further procreation. Perhaps in time, available prison space would again be adequate for its purpose.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 06, 11:49 pm CDT


You make a valid point; however, I see the outcome differently.

These self-defense case, in my opinion would still happen, but they would just spend weeks, even months, justifying their lack of retreat in court.

I don't believe, if the laws were more standard, that the self-defense individual would not do exactly the same thing. I believe they would just be in court trying to justify another thing.

Like you and I agreed before, such circumstances are positive when in your own home, I think the disagreement comes when we discuss the different possible outcomes to having SYG laws (and not something more standard).

We may have to just agree to disagree; however, always fun discussing the topic!

By Joshua Neuman on 2013 05 07, 12:14 am CDT

Rational minds can agree that SYG must be inapplicable for self-styled vigilantes.

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 07, 1:28 am CDT

It would be more rational to allow self-styled vigilantes the same recourse as any other vigilantes, and to allow both groups of vigilantes the same rights anyone else would have if attacked. This will help to more rapidly cull out the criminal aggressors who are so stupid and out of control that they attack vigilantes. I say we should let the vigilantes take care of them for us in such circumstances, and we should be happy they chose to attack the vigilantes instead of attacking someone else who was not as heavily armed.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 07, 3:16 am CDT

There are 2 components to SYG in Florida. The abrogation of a requirement to retreat when attacked. And immunity against criminal and civil legal actions should it be confirmed that the attackee - the victim - was justified in using deadly force.

Retreat or not retreat is a tactical decision. Is it better to turn and run (and possible be shot in the back) or to stand and fight? The answer is "it depends." The "duty to retreat" doctrine is inflexible and in my opinion, dangerous.

The second component of SYG is that which is most important in my opinion. If the use of deadly force is justified, the attacker (or his heirs) *should* be denied the ability to seek damages on the grounds that, after all, he started it, and that he is responsible for his own injury (or demise).

In addition, it prevents prosecutors with an agenda against guns from subverting the intent of the legislature, who enact the criteria for lawful use of deadly force, from prosecuting a CRIME VICTIM who legally used deadly force to the point of financial extinction.

In my opinion, it is unfair for victims of a forcible felony or of an assault where a reasonable person would uphold the victim's use of deadly force for defense, to be further assaulted or victimized by a prosecutor who hates guns, gun owners, or feels like indicting another ham sandwich.

Providing a hearing before a judge on a claim of SYG not only prevents unnecessarily litigation costs to the crime victim, but saves the government money as well.

Opponents of SYG like to claim that it is a "get away with murder" card. Not true. In Florida which has had SYG for over 5 years, this simply is not happening. Judges are not stupid, and successful invocations are counted on the fingers of one or both hands.

By Pacific on 2013 05 07, 9:16 am CDT

@29 - I agree wholeheartedly about the immunity from suit prong in case a homicide was justifiable. But:

"Retreat or not retreat is a tactical decision. Is it better to turn and run (and possible be shot in the back) or to stand and fight? The answer is “it depends.” The “duty to retreat” doctrine is inflexible and in my opinion, dangerous."

How is the duty to retreat inflexible? The opportunity to retreat must be reasonable, after all. If the danger to turning and running would be possibly being shot in the back, that would not be a reasonable opportunity to retreat. To me it seems like the "no duty to retreat" doctrine is much more inflexible, as, at least superficially, it does not require as much of a factual analysis to determine if a death was justifiable. (I still am a little unclear, I'll admit, as to what is a reasonable fear of death or serious harm if the threat can be readily avoided...)

@26 - Litigation costs are always a concern, but considering we are dealing with cases of life and death, I think it would be proper to devote court resources to ensure that culpable homicides (however defined) are punished.

@25 - What with your penchant for punnery and hyperbole, it is sometimes tough to discern when you are serious, but I'll bite.

"I am OK with making legally justifiable deaths more likely." What if increasing that likelihood disproportionately increases the likelihood that innocents will be killed?

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 07, 12:17 pm CDT

@McLeod - how dare you interject fact and reason into an internet argument?

By Jason on 2013 05 07, 12:21 pm CDT

And I can speculate as good as anyone. What if increasing the likelihood of justifiable deaths disproportionately increases the likelihood that innocents will be saved (because criminal aggressors are being culled from the population)?

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 07, 12:28 pm CDT

@32 - Then I'd be for it, sure. But I do not see how making the threshold lower for the justifiable use of deadly force will decrease false positives, that is, less people killing others that are not actual threats. SYG seems to necessarily increase the likelihood of a false positive (type I error for stats geeks).

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 07, 12:34 pm CDT

"Seems to"? More speculation. Multiple variables. I concurrently speculate that there will be a net savings in innocents, as all innocents who would have been the subjects of future killings by each criminal aggressor correctly culled from the population will be saved.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 07, 3:47 pm CDT

OK Pushkin, let me clarify. Lowering the standard for when one may use lethal force against a perceived aggressor necessarily increases the likelihood that deadly force will be wrongly used against an innocent. Therefore, it is certain that over time more innocent people will be mistakenly killed as a result of SYG laws.

There is only one variable here, namely, how much information you must have about your perceived threat before blowing him away. Doing away with a reasonable duty to retreat takes away a lot of information that trigger happy vigilantes might otherwise have before taking someone's life. Less information = more false positives.

And, since we all agree that deadly force is perfectly acceptable in the case of a reasonable threat where there is no reasonable option to retreat, repealing SYG does not do anything to hinder the use of deadly force for self-defense in the case of an actual threat of death or serious bodily harm.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 07, 5:06 pm CDT

Do SYG laws mean that discretion is not the better part of valor?

By Doodle Dandy on 2013 05 07, 9:43 pm CDT


"How is the duty to retreat inflexible? The opportunity to retreat must be reasonable, after all."

Answer (Dictionary definition): "... the victim in a murderous assault must attempt to retreat safely rather than resorting to using deadly force in self-defense." Note the word "must."

Specific example.

Connecticut Jury instructions on the use of self defense: § 53a-19 (b)

Exceptions to the use of deadly force.

Duty to retreat: "...a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if (he/she) knows that (he/she) can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating. This disqualification requires a defendant to retreat instead of using deadly physical force whenever two conditions are met: 1) a completely safe retreat is in fact available to (him/her); and 2) (he/she) knows that (he/she) can avoid the necessity of using deadly physical force by making that completely safe retreat."

Duty to retreat applies to one's home, too, under circumstances involving a "co-dweller."

Surrender of property: "...a person is not justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense against another is when (he/she) knows that (he/she) can avoid the use of physical force with complete safety by surrendering an object of personal property to the assailant."

Comply with demand: "...a person is not justified in using deadly physical force in self-defense against another is when (he/she) knows that (he/she) can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by complying with a demand that (he/she) abstain from performing an act which (he/she) is not obliged to perform."

Then there is this:

"A person is not permitted to use deadly physical force in self-defense just because that person reasonably believed that the victim was attempting to rob that person." State v. Harrison, 32 Conn. App. 687, 694, cert. denied, 227 Conn. 932 (1993); see also State v. Byrd, 34 Conn. App. 368, aff'd, 239 Conn. 405 (1996) (deadly force is not allowed if person can retreat in complete safety or avoid harm by surrendering property).

In Connecticut, you must first "give it up," run away if you can, until you are cornered or exhausted, or be bleeding out before you can use deadly force to defend yourself. Even in your home if involving a co-dweller. I call this "inflexible."

In Florida, which has SYG, essentially, you don’t have to run away. You don't have to "give it up." All you have to be is in a place where you have a legal right to be, and you are not the aggressor. And you have to have a reasonable fear of your life or the lives of others while the victim of a forcible felony.

26 states now have a form of SYG. Any attempt to reverse SYG by the ABA is evil!

By Pacific on 2013 05 08, 8:07 am CDT

"Any attempt to reverse SYG by the ABA is evil."

Agreed! Well put!

By Yankee on 2013 05 08, 10:56 am CDT

@37 - The Connecticut jury instructions highlight the flexibility of the duty to retreat: it only applies when there is a "completely safe" opportunity to retreat. That is a very high threshold. Why would you want someone to be able to kill a perceived threat if they have a completely safe manner of avoiding that threat? Remember, the perceived threat might or might not actually be a legitimate threat (as opposed to a mistaken one). Requiring someone to retreat in that situation would greatly decrease the chances that someone merely perceived to be a threat would be needlessly killed, while not imposing any dangerous duty on the threatened party. They only must retreat if they can do so in a completely safe manner.

As far as the case language, all it says is that there is no presumption of threat of death or serious physical injury by the mere fact of an attempt to rob. Is that objectionable? It is pretty standard that deadly force is generally not permitted to protect property. I appreciate the case cites, by the way, but I wonder if you looked at the facts of the cases. In Byrd, the victim grabbed some vials of coke as payment for a disputed debt and was walking out of the residence where the defendant was located, who pursued the victim.

From Harrison " the crux of the inquiry is not whether the defendant reasonably believed he was being robbed, but whether the defendant reasonably believed that the victim was using or about to use deadly physical force or was inflicting or about to inflict great bodily harm." That's right in any SYG context as well; the defendant in that case was in a car and was being slapped through a window; he drove off for a bit, the victim hung on, the defendant stopped the car, and shot the victim. The court instructed the jury that it was the state's burden to demonstrate that the defendant could have retreated in complete safety; the state met its burden.

As far as repeal of SYG being "evil", please. At best you could claim that one is a better policy than the other, but nobody here has put forth any policy argument in favor of SYG yet that is not already addressed by standard self-defense.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 08, 12:41 pm CDT

SYG makes sense in one's own home. It makes no sense when applied in a Zimmeran -like situaiton where the invoker , in a public place,went far out of his way to confront the person who then allegedly attacked him.

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 08, 3:12 pm CDT


You completely ignored the rest of it, i.e., "give it up." The doctrine in law that victims should placate their attackers instead of fighting them off.

But let's discuss the real reason why the ABA wants to roll back SYG. The watchwords are not "public safety," it's "Gun control" and "racism."

Trayvon Martin's death is being used as a "dog whistle," with the claim in the ABA post that it disproportionally impacts "people of color." Stand your ground is labeled "kill at will" by those wanting to eliminate the doctrine. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla) famously stated " this sweet young boy ... was hunted down like a dog, shot down in the street." And that "This was a standard case of racial profiling."

The ABA post notes that Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown (from the last state that stubbornly fights tooth and nail against concealed carry) equates self defense as being “investigator, judge, jury and executor all in one.” One wonders on whose side she is on: The victim of violent crime or the criminal?

The post uses the claim that "Burglary, robbery and aggravated assaults have not dropped in states with these laws, while the homicide rate is collectively up 8 percent."


The Bureau of Justice Statistics just released a report (Crime in the United States, 2011) that basically says that the violent crime increase premise ABA advances is, essentially, nonsense.

BJS says "the 2011 estimated violent crime total was 15.4 percent below the 2007" (Crime in the United States, 2011, Overview, 5 year trend). Yet, collectively (sayeth the ABA), the 25 SYG states showed and increase of 8%. Hello? Can anybody at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority do arithmetic?

Further, Florida, the state that first implemented SYG in 2005 and where Martin was killed, reports a drop in violent crimes from 541.3 per 100K to 515.3; a 3.7% drop in the actual number of violent crimes between 2010 and 2011. (Crime in the United States, 2011, table 4.)

In Florida, the state that hunted Trayvon down "like a dog," across the board, shows a drop in murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault. (Ibid.)

I wrote that "any attempt to reverse SYG by the ABA is evil!" I say that when the ABA is using a hidden agenda (gun control) while trying to hide behind racism, using numbers that might be bogus as justification in an attempt to force half the states to return to a time when "give it up" and "run away" was the standard, I say that the ABA would be doing evil.

By Pacific on 2013 05 09, 9:02 am CDT


Zimmerman is not claiming "stand your ground." In fact, SYG is a rarely accepted defense in Florida where Zimmerman is charged (averaging about 25/year* in a state with 984 homicides in 2011 (Table 4), or about 2.5% of the time). The question in Zimmerman's case is whether Martin committed a forcible felony justifying Zimmerman's use of deadly force. Or not.

* Tampa Bay Times reports that since the Florida law was passed 8 years ago, there were about 200 successful uses of SYG.

By Pacific on 2013 05 09, 9:04 am CDT

Yes, it is interesting that the Martin case continues to be misused, given that the defense has not been raised in that case at all. As far as the "give it up" club, were Neville Chamberlain still living, he would have been ABA President at least six times by now.

By B. McLeod on 2013 05 09, 12:16 pm CDT

Meh. If they are in your home, shoot them.

Then, shoot another bullet into the floor and tell everyone that you fired a warning shot.

Hell, if that dingus runner from South Africa had done that after blazing away at his girlfriend, there likely wouldn't be any issue.

By Voice of Reason Prime on 2013 05 09, 2:03 pm CDT

@41 - I agree with you that the Trayvon Martin case is not squarely on point with SYG (though it probably will not be irrelevant, if Zimmerman asserts self-defense), and I agree that the racialization of that case is clearly excessive, and is probably more so a tool for pundit windbags to have something to speak about on television than anything else.

As far as crime statistics go, there is nothing inconsistent with violent crimes going up in certain SYG states while decreasing nationwide. I doubt there is a strong connection with SYG and crime rates one way or another in any case; as you point out SYG really works in the margins.

Still, and I guess we'll just disagree, I think that in those marginal cases where deadly force is used, SYG necessarily increases the likelihood that deadly force will be used mistakenly against someone who is perceived, but is not if fact, a threat of death or serious bodily harm. The duty to retreat does not require someone to turn and run, ducking bullets, just to get out of harm's way. The Connecticut standard demonstrates that it only applies in limited cases, and the burden to show there was a reasonable, or in that state a "completely safe", option to retreat is on the state.

I am not against SYG on any racial grounds or from a concern that criminals might get capped. The problem with SYG is simply that it removes a significant informational tool, i.e. the duty to retreat if feasible, that can demonstrate to someone whether another is a real threat or not, while not improving anyone's ability to use deadly force in self-defense when truly necessary.

I guess we'll agree to disagree. In any case, it was nice to have a civil debate here for once.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 09, 2:24 pm CDT

I never stand my ground. I always distract and flee. Works for me...

By defensive lawyer on 2013 05 09, 10:41 pm CDT

If only everyone ran as fast as you. But then wouldn't that include the criminals? Scary stuff

By TheYutz on 2013 05 09, 11:50 pm CDT

@46 I would not want you to represent me if you have that attitude. Does that mean if when you represent someone and the case does not look promising you cut and run? Do you not have convictions?

By Pacific on 2013 05 10, 8:27 am CDT

For a defensive lawyer, the less convictions the better.

By NoleLaw on 2013 05 10, 12:19 pm CDT

#48 -- Not all litigants want to bet their entire livelihoods on a lawsuit's outcome. Nor do all defendants want to bet years of their lives on the outcome of a trial. That's why there are mediations and plea deals.

There is a word for lawyers who passionately fight in court every single time in avery single case regardless of the competing merits, just like on TV: "Incompetent."

By AndytheLawyer on 2013 05 10, 5:53 pm CDT

Yes, there are incompetent attorneys. Then there are the attorneys that take all the money and do nothing. They have no convictions and are cowards. E.g., I represented a woman charged with a phone felony because she called a significant other the "N" word. The SA refused to drop the charges. This was clearly a injustice and the law was in my opinion clearly a violation of the 1st Amendment. Who cuts and runs? Who stands for their convictions?

By Pacific on 2013 05 11, 9:48 am CDT

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