Kenyetta Douglas
AP Lang and Composition
14 December 2016
Stand Your Ground Laws Are Failing
In a problematic situation, such as an assailant waving a gun at a victim, the victim has the right to protect themselves if they are feeling threatened. How would someone respond if an assailant is waving a gun using a threatening tone? Someone might respond by trying to avoid the situation or by retreating, or the person will take his chance and try to protect his life. This scenario is covered under the Stand Your Ground or SYG law. The question that troubles people is the effectiveness of the Stand Your Ground law. The Stand Your Ground has flaws which affect the validity of the law and shows no sign of protecting the human race. The flaws include, the law protects the guilty, the law is vague, and it gives the right to kill.
The Stand Your Ground law states that person has the right to use deadly force if needed and if there is an retreat option the person can do so but they do not have to (Hundley et al, 2) According to Hundley and other writers, the law also addresses that if the victim cannot retreat then he or she may use any force necessary to protect himself.(2) The law first emerged after 9/11 in 2001 when the public safety of society was diminished. The law was later changed in 2005 by Jeb Bush, but it did not have any more detailed specifications than the expansion to the castle doctrine( the law that gives people the right to protect their home and their valuables) (Cohen 3). There are a total of 22 of states who have the Stand Your Ground law, including states Kentucky,Florida, Texas , and Pennsylvania. The statistics show that the SYG law has resulted in an increase in firearm homicides because the assailant believes he can get off unprosecuted in a court. According Walkens during "2007-2009 over 4,900 people in the U.S. died from unintentional shootings"(Walkens 20) Walkens also addresses that the U.S. has the highest gun deaths out of 36 of the wealthiest nations (21).
One of the reasons the SYG law is flawed is, because it claims it protect people from bodily harm when they are letting the guilty go free while the innocent person was harmed. Many people can elude the law by simply calling out "self defense" when an victim is dead. In 2004 eight homicides were deemed justifiable as of in the court(Cloud 3). SYG laws allow for people to premeditate what they are going to do to the victim they despise, resulting in usually the death of the victim. No one can prove otherwise that the assailant had attacked the victim making the law seem unfair(National Task Force 30). The jurors' and the judge's judgment of the assailant's plea is debated because the case is biased to the assailant's recollection of the altercation that happened earlier. Statistics show that about 70% of people who claim self defense under the SYG law goes free (Hundley et al., 1). Cloud found out that in 2010,about 5 years after the SYG law was enacted the number of justifiable homicides increased to 40 from eight homicides (3). In addition to protecting the guilty, the jury is obliged to think on a level where they see that one person was saved from an altercation rather than two casualties(Lave 21-22). The SYG law is strongly based on protection of a life resulting in the bias to be put on the jury in the trial. The bias presented through the SYG law is that the jury is likely to believe the assailant since there is no one to contradict his statement making the judge biased.
Another flaw in the SYG law is that the use of deadly force has many factors in determining the force needed to protect someone's life. For example if someone was fighting using physical force then there is no reason for the victim to bring out a gun since the force is minimum. The first factor is the correspondence of the threat to the victim. So in any case where the assailant is trying to just