Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Piece at the New York Daily News: "Stand Your Ground makes sense"


My piece starts this way:

Call them what you will: “Stand Your Ground” or “Castle Doctrine” laws. Mayor Bloomberg and members of Congress, speaking on the House floor, go so far as to label them “shoot first” laws. 
This is a gross exaggeration — a slander, in fact, against legislation designed to reform a flaw in our treatment of self-defense. Earlier statutes affirmatively required potential victims to retreat as much as possible before using deadly force to protect themselves, sometimes putting their lives in jeopardy.
The supposedly infamous laws passed in Florida and elsewhere, in contrast, use a “reasonable person” standard for determining when it is proper to defend oneself — requiring that a reasonable person would believe that another individual intends to inflict serious bodily harm or death on them.
Pundits who’ve had a field day ripping apart Stand Your Ground laws repeatedly fail to mention that crucial “reasonable person” standard.
The wild speculation that the laws give broad license for vigilantes to go around recklessly shooting people are a totally irresponsible caricature. Ultimately, it is judges or jurors who determine what constitutes a reasonable fear under such a law, not the person who fires the gun. . . .

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