“Rude, hot-headed and terrifed”: What happens when everyone stands their ground

Demand a plan on gunsIn this must-read, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick discusses the growing use of “stand your ground” laws across the country and poses this question:  Whatever happened to the duty to retreat, and what does that say about us as a nation?

Her answer, sadly, is an astute one.  We are now an armed and terrified people who assume that everyone has a gun and everyone is justified in using it.

I would say that, whether or not specific jurisdictions define self-defense to include a duty to retreat, and whether or not specific juries are charged to apply it, America is quickly becoming one big “stand your ground” state, as a matter of culture if not the letter of the law.

*  *  *

Think about it: The National Rifle Association that has pushed so hard for “stand your ground” laws in recent years is the same National Rifle Association that has put so many guns, and such lethal guns, in so many hands—concealed carry, open carry, wave-it-around-and-call-it-free-speech carry. The gun lobby has single-handedly made certain that the very definition of what one might reasonably expect from an altercation at a Walmart, a movie theater, or a gas station has changed. By seeking to arm everyone in America, the NRA has in fact changed our reasonable expectation of how fights will end, into a self-fulfilling prophecy about how fights will end.



  1. Jack

    February 26, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Stand your ground laws across the country is a call to war on the black community. The message from the Michael Dunn trial is that you better shoot to kill because if you don’t kill you will be found guilty of attempted murder but not of murder because stand your ground on issues of loud music is a reasonable cause for shooting a man. Because as long as you “FEEL” threatened you can use lethal force to protect yourself. The message from the Trayvon Martin trail was that if your any color you can kill a black man and be found not guilty. I wonder what would happen if a black man stood his ground and were to shoot a white man?

  2. Sean D Sorrentino

    February 26, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Well, if Stand Your Ground leads to increased death and mayhem, you shouldn’t have any problem finding lots of dead people to support your theories. Please point to the statistics that show how murder rates are increasing. While you are at it, maybe you can show how assaults and aggravated assaults are increasing. It should be easy, right? With all the extra death and destruction that so many millions of new guns in so many new gun owners.

    I won’t hold my breath though. Having seen the actual statistics, I already know that crime is down 50% since the mid 90’s. It must suck to have reality trump your fears ever single time.

  3. Lucinda

    February 26, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Here’s a link to a paper analyzing the specifics: Stand Your Ground Laws, Homicides, and Injuries by Chandler B. McClellan, Erdal Tekin


    Their conclusion: “According to our estimates, between 28 and 33 additional white males are killed each month as a result of these laws. We find no consistent evidence to suggest that these laws increase homicides among blacks. Auxiliary analysis using data from the Supplemental Homicide Reports indicates that our results are not driven by the killings of assailants. We also find that the stand your ground laws are not related to non-homicide deaths, which should not respond to gun laws. Finally, we analyze data from the Health Care Utilization Project to show that these laws are also associated with a significant increase in emergency room visits and hospital discharges related to firearm inflicted injuries. Taken together, these findings raise serious doubts against the argument that Stand Your Ground laws make public safer.”

  4. emma

    February 27, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Perhaps, with the Stand Your Ground Law, we have found “the cure” for domestic violence.

  5. Jack

    February 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm


    One of my points is that Stand Your Ground is not seen by the courts as murder therefore murder rates will not be seen as increasing. On the other hand attempted murder may go up because as in the Dunn trial he was found guilty of attempted murder. So the message is – make sure you shoot to kill and the murder rate will not increase will set you free. Just make sure your music is turned low when you’re out driving around and at local convenience stores. Otherwise you’ll be asking for it.

  6. LayintheSmakDown

    March 2, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    What happened to duty of retreat? They got shot in the back. The reality is that sometimes you have to defend yourself, and should not be considered a criminal if you are doing so.

    And Jack…..It is not a call to war on the black community, but maybe a call for people tired of being assaulted by the black community. The statistics are overwhelming that black on any other race crime far exceeds crime in the other direction.

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