Stand your ground laws originated from the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year old boy who was shot in February 2012 when walking to his girlfriend’s house in Florida. The law allows armed people to us their weapons if they believe they are in imminent danger. As provided in the Duty to Retreat, before responding with force in self-defence, the person need try as much as possible to retreat from the threat. This is opposed to the provisions of stand your ground laws which allow use of force to defend yourself without attempting to retreat first. The law attempts to remove the confusion brought about when prosecuting people who used self-defence during an attack even though there was no attempt to retreat from the danger. Individuals claim self-defence when they used their weapon inappropriately and avoided trial. In as much as a person could be in imminent danger there is a need to retreat before using force. Putting the Stand Your Ground into law may lead to some situations where people shoot first and wait for questions later since they can escape trials. The law in some occasions has led to deaths and injuries making it unjust to the victims since it provides room for people to use excessive force when defending themselves without sufficient retreat.

It is very unfortunate that some individuals owning guns have misused the privileges provided by the Stand Your Ground laws to attack innocent citizens by taking the law into their hands. These people tend to shoot without considering whether the intruder is armed of not since they are protected by law. The law seems to violate human right to live and can lead to the death of innocent citizens. For example, the Florida Stand Your Ground law has brought some shocking results based on how this law is applied. Since it was passed, it has brought cases of people killing others and working free with claims of self-defence. The number of criminals’ offenses is increasing as the attorneys based their reasons on the Stand your ground as the main reason for the use of dangerous weapons. But this should not happen; the judge needs to do enough investigation to determining the cause of crime based on evidence.

The laws would increase murder cases in the United States. Imagine a case where you are not happy with your neighbour; you would use your weapon to kill him/her since you are protected by law. People should not be allowed to act first through the use of the weapons; they need to retreat first before acting. Allowing use of personal weapons with minimal control would put the country in danger since some people would use them for criminal purposes. A certain group of individuals would use the opportunity to gain financially rather than self-defence. The defenceless rich would be under danger since they can be attacked any time by the armed thugs with claims of self-defence.
Stand your ground laws gives citizens unlimited power. The citizens have more powers without sufficient constraints. The law enforcement personnel find it difficult to prosecute individuals found guilty of shooting another since they claim self-defence. Also, it is difficult to determine the person was in danger before using force since he or she might be alone when applying the excess force. As provided by this law, a person who uses force against an intruder in a residential area or at home was fearful of violence. But it would not be easy for the law enforcement personnel to determine whether this was true since there is no evidence. The person can use this opportunity to kill or harm an innocent person who might have gone to look for his or her property. Therefore, it is necessary to set limits for this law.

As stated by Association Prosecuting Attorneys on March 26, 2012, shoot first laws immune the killer from prosecution. The law protects police officers who are involved in shooting when on duty. The outcome would undermine law enforcement and prosecutions since the police can use this opportunity to shoot innocent people. A person should be judged guilty or not in the court of law not by the police officers. The shoot first law may encourage some vigilante behaviours by police officers through misuse of the guns. For an evidence of a crime to be found, the law offenders need to be taken to court, but if they are shot without investigations, vital evidence that could be used by the law enforcement agencies might get lost.

It is good for the government to allow self-defence since some cases of insecurity happen at places where law enforcement agencies could not easily reach. But the law should be firm on a retreat before using force. Stand your ground Law can increase criminals’ cases in the United States if its limits are not put under proper control. We act with violence to defend ourselves from danger, but there is need to retreat first.

2014 Berke-Weiss & Pechman LLP. All Rights Reserved