Now it's the lawmakers' turn

Legislators must stand their ground on self-defense

A Texas teenager recently shot and killed a burglar at his grandmother’s house. Few would say he didn’t do the right thing.

 

So maybe we need a “Stand Your Grandmother’s Ground” law?

Let’s not.

It’s bad enough that the
nation’s series of “Stand Your Ground” laws are under attack since the George Zimmerman acquittal – including Georgia’s and South Carolina’s.

Despite the fact that the Florida law wasn’t even invoked by Zimmerman. And despite the fact that the law merely codifies a natural, God-given right to self-defense.

Where do the armchair Einsteins get the right to insist that someone who is being attacked has the obligation to retreat? That’s frankly none of the state’s business. And how does a person know he or she won’t be killed even in retreat?

One supposes that the experts on the sidelines are willing to bet your life on it.

We’ll say it again: You have a natural, God-given right to defend yourself. And while flight is often preferable to fight, you are under no natural obligation to do so. Laws to the contrary are wrong, morally and practically – and, arguably, constitutionally.

The irony is that the movement to recognize your right to stand your ground in the law has turned the discussion upside down. Opponents of the law want to put the onus and responsibility for the deadly encounter on the victim.

That’s not how the American system of jurisprudence operates.

Recently the South Carolina law was eroded when its Supreme Court ruled a stand-your-ground claimant must face a full criminal trial before having an appeals court consider his stand-your-ground claim. That’s a dreadful shame – and the South Carolina legislature should fix that, first thing next January.

It’s interesting, though: Lawmakers in nearly half the 50 states have passed such a law after careful deliberation, while many in other states have debated it. All the while, pointy-headed academics have written about it from their cozy dens and postulated about it in panel discussions – and yet they all expect you to process all their hand-wringing nuances and negotiate their little legal labyrinth in the blink of an eye while staring into the muzzle of a gun.

Thanks so much for the before-the-fact second-guessing, but no thanks.

Early next year, Stand Your Ground will be attacked in legislatures across the country, including Georgia and South Carolina – in an effort to strip away our natural rights, because of a case that didn’t even address the issue.

Stand Your Ground laws do not create a right to self-defense; they only recognize that existing right in the law. But once on the books, neither should we retreat from them.

We urge our senators and representatives in Atlanta and Columbia to stand their ground.

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