In 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.
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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.