Chris Cox Defends ‘Stand Your Ground Laws’ in NY Times Op-Ed

Let me start by saying the best defense of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, what anti-gunners call “Shoot-First” or “Kill at Will” laws comes courtesy of self-defense expert and firearms instructor Massad Ayoob.

If you haven’t already watched his speech on SYG laws, the video is posted above. He breaks down exactly why the law that allows one to use force, including deadly force, when one reasonably fears for his or her life in the public square is not only a sensible doctrine backed by historical precedent but also a wise policy measure in that it saves municipal governments money, as it allows them to forgo unnecessary legal proceedings, and protects perpetrators of justifiable homicides from civil prosecution, which can effectively bankrupt an innocent gun owner.

Okay, now to the point at hand which is that recently the New York Times ran an editorial in which Robert J. Spitzer, a political scientist at SUNY Cortland and the author, most recently, of “Guns Across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights,” argued for the repeal of SYG laws.

“The marriage of expanded Stand Your Ground laws with escalating civilian gun toting increases unnecessary violent confrontations and deaths,” wrote Spitzer in the NY Times piece. “We need policies that defuse confrontations in public places, especially since more than 11 million Americans now have licenses to carry concealed firearms.”

“The police and prosecutors need to be able to conduct full, unencumbered investigations,” Spitzer continued. “And gun owners need to admit what most of them already know: that firearms’ lethality and ease of use make fatal miscalculation more likely.”

Well, Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, responded to Spitzer’s article and adequately defended SYG laws. Here is what Mr. Cox had to say:

Stand Your Ground laws aren’t what Robert J. Spitzer would have you believe (“Stand Your Ground Makes No Sense,” Op-Ed, May 4).

The laws provide only that if a person is legally justified to use force to prevent death or serious injury, he or she is not required to try to run away first. They do not allow a person, as Mr. Spitzer put it, to “shoot first and ask questions later.”

Most states now have some form of Stand Your Ground laws, and the nation’s murder rate is now at or near an all-time low. Gun control supporters oppose Stand Your Ground laws for the same reason they oppose right-to-carry laws. Both validate the type of firearm used most often for self-defense, and which, for that reason, anti-gun activist groups have tried for years to get banned: handguns.

Polls show that Americans of most demographic groups increasingly support having guns for protection, and most gun owners have them for that reason. Support for banning handguns is at an all-time low.

Gun control supporters like Mr. Spitzer are running out of arguments to lose.


Fairfax, Va.

It’s a pretty good defense of the law. I’d only add that if it’s pared down even further to a basic yes or no type of Q&A, the law makes even more sense: If a criminal is trying to kill you, regardless of whether it is at home, in your car or in a public area, do you have the right to use force to to stop that bad guy? Yes. Should you face civil prosecution for killing a bad guy? No. Should you face criminal prosecution for killing a bad guy? No. If you agree with those answers then you support SYG.

Overall, what are your thoughts on SYG?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • Scott Syverson May 19, 2015, 6:52 pm

    Thank you for bringing M. Ayood’s speech forward and making it available for us. That should be on demand for all Gun America viewers in a library somewhere on the site. It was brilliant.


  • Vern May 18, 2015, 12:07 pm

    To Sam Ruger; You seem to think that SYG laws require you to flee if there is an avenue to do so. “If you can’t back up, you don’t have to… Is THAT what you think SYG means? That is totally incorrect and it is stupid concept. Clearly if you CAN’T back up you are forced to act. That is NOT what SYG laws are about. I don’t choose to turn my back on an armed bad guy so no, I will not attempt to run away if confronted with a guy carrying a gun. I’m not interested in being shot in the back, as some victims (unarmed victims) here in this state have been. Georgia has a good SYG law and very few incidents of lawful gun owners having to use lethal force. The bad guys look for “Gun Free Zones” when trying their robberies. By the way, why did you resort to ad hominem attacks on politicians when addressing the SYG laws? You tacitly indicated that every lawmaker who voted in favor of SYG laws is dumb. That is an extremely arrogant attitude. Just because YOU don’t think a law should have been written as it was does not make everyone who disagrees with your opinion dumb.

    • Sam Ruger May 22, 2015, 5:06 am

      I know that’s what SYG means. What law school did you go to not to know that? Yes – If you can’t back up, you’e entitled to SYG. You don’t need an SYG law for that right. It already exists. SYG laws provide absolutely ZERO extra protection for those of us who carry.

      Basically all self defense laws date back to the gunfight at the OK Corral. The Earps’ and Doc Holiday all had a huge problem. They were there by CHOICE. As a result, they were all tried for MURDER afterwards (And they did not get free attorneys.). They were found innocent ONLY because Virgil had a badge. ALL Supreme Court decisions since are based on whether the shooter has a BADGE. They don’t give a rat’s A$$ about SYG.

      Anyone without a BADGE thinking they can just stand there and blast away, free of legal action, is about as smart as you are.

  • Sam Ruger May 18, 2015, 6:09 am

    I have a CWC permit and anyone who engages in SYG will likely spend 112 days in jail and spend six figures in legal fees exactly as the speaker described. He describes the court tests himself and starts off with the fatal flaw:

    Would a reasonable person back up?

    His own words; “Could you retreat with complete safety?”

    If the answer is NO, then – YES – you can stand your ground.

    If the answer is YES then expect to spend 112 days in jail and six figures in legal fees EXACTLY as he describes. Stand your ground simply means that, “If you can’t back up, you don’t have to.”

    Way too many people think it means “I don’t have to back up NO MATTER WHAT”.
    Anyone who has the opportunity to back up and does not is there by CHOICE. Being there by choice is not self defense. As the speaker admitted, SYG laws are now used all the time (almost exclusively) by criminals as a defense. This law actually adds to the cost of the legal system by granting this defense.

    SYG laws were written by dumass politicians who have no idea of the legal tests the defendant has to meet. The person who believes these laws grant him the right to “shoot it out” for fun and sport will find the law doesn’t work that way.

    • Skip May 18, 2015, 7:19 am

      You are totally WRONG… SYG does not require that you be backed into a corner. It is your type of ignorance and stupidity which makes it difficult to educate people so that they can make the correct choice when it comes to legally defending themselves… where did you come up with your drivel?

    • DaveGinOly May 18, 2015, 12:14 pm

      SYG is not an affirmative defense. A shooter does not raise SYG in defense of his actions – if the shooting was a lawful, defensive use of lethal force, then it was a “good shot,” period. SYG affirms the concept that no peaceable person needs to retreat at the threat of criminal violence. The purpose of SYG is to prevent the prosecution of a shooter in a lawful, self-defense shooting from being prosecuted for having failed to retreat (presuming that retreat was possible).

      The whole idea of SYG is that it makes the possibility of retreat irrelevant. The defender need not consider it during the incident because SYG prevents the state from considering the possibility of retreat when determining the lawfulness of the shooting.

      Even when retreat is impossible, SYG does not make lawful an otherwise unlawful use of lethal force. With SYG, the only thing that matters is whether or not the use of lethal force was justified.

      • Sam Ruger May 21, 2015, 12:33 am

        Sorry, but you use the words “The purpose of SYG is to prevent the prosecution of a shooter in a lawful, self-defense shooting from being prosecuted for having failed to retreat (presuming that retreat was possible).”

        Presuming retreat was possible?

        If it was possible and you don’t exercise it then you are there by CHOICE and you can expect to have have to hire a six figure defense attorney EXACTLY as the speaker said. Did you not listen to him?

        And to the other genius who said he wasn’t going to turn around to be “shot in the back”, no law requires you to turn around in retreat.

        If you had any sense at all you’d know that Florida had a SYG law. How did that work for Zimmerman? Or are you claiming he did not end up in court with a six figure attorney? Do you envy him?

        Good luck with your knowledge of the law. We should be seeing you on TV next.

        • JoeUSooner May 20, 2016, 9:32 am

          Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground Law originally worked extremely well for Zimmerman!! The local police found no reason to arrest him, and the local district attorney’s office refused to prosecute him. It was only (much later!… check the chronology) after a concerted public-relations campaign that federal prosecutors stepped in and forced the issue… for entirely political – NOT justifiably legal – reasons. And even after that cluster-fornication, the jury formally found Zimmerman to be innocent.
          Your argument is not applicable.

  • DRAINO May 15, 2015, 7:01 pm

    HERE HERE!! Well said! Since when does your right to protect yourself end when you walk out your door? Right to self defense is critical to Americans and our way of life. And we shouldn’t be sunk financially with frivolous lawsuits should we have to exercise that right. If more Americans carried, I have NO DOUBT crime would even be lower still. Yes, there will still be crime. There will ALWAYS be crime. Even violent crime….but there will be MUCH LESS. And Yes, I will go there….natural selection….what a wondrous thing. More dead criminals= less crime. That’s called a deterrent. Like the right to carry. Like what jail should be.

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