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.
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?