Under: Self-defense
12 Jun 2012


Some drivers exchange words or gestures, stop at a light and one driver confronts that other. One driver punches the other and gets shot! Did I make this up? I took some poetic liberties but this situation among others – happen all of the time. Take a look at this story here.


Here is where I have an issue. If someone is attacked and the defender cannot get away and/or has people or property to protect – I am fine with self defense. What I am not fine with is if someone is passive/aggressive (pretending to be passive but lying in wait) and then unloading on a bad guy/gal. I think we as a people should give other people allowances if they are behaving badly and try to avoid confrontation.


In this post I will spell out what is happening today with stand your ground laws – the good and the bad and what is common sense in these situations. I’ll also go over what my mother taught me as a kid and what it means today (sticks and stones will break your bones but names will never hurt me).



What used to happen if someone had to defend themselves in many states was a person had to try to avoid the fight or attack. If the person could not avoid – only then would he/she be acting legally. Many times a robber would get shot in the home he was robbing and the homeowners would be arrested. You see they had a duty to try and getaway even in their own home.


Here in California I don’t think we have a stand your ground law but one is assumed to be in fear of his/her life if someone breaks into their house. This fixed some of the nonsense in CA where now robbers know if they break into someones house – lethal force can be used.


But if the same robber tried to attack you in the street or in your car – NOTHING is assumed. The victim may find him/herself in the position of acting the way a reasonable man  would. The cops have some leeway but they are looking for common sense.


In California one cannot carry a gun in the glove box unless he/she has a concealed weapons permit (they are not given out easily). So most people cannot defend themselves with weapons when they are out and about (except pepper spray or stun guns). So I would argue in California one really has to be reasonable. You don’t have your “body guard” in your pocket in case you miscalculated!


So stand your ground laws can be helpful I think in states that allow citizens to carry and if the people use some kind of reasonable man standard (as we have in CA). Guns while can be helpful for self defense, can also be misused by children. I view guns as a double-edged sword. If you have a gun here you need to have a trigger lock I think.


What I think is wrong in some of the states that have stand your ground laws is there does not seem to be a reasonable man standard. Only immunity if one follows the letter of the law (unfortunately laws are written by people). This can lead to gun owners thinking they are living in the wild west. Anything goes so long as you can prove who started it. Does this make sense?


Admittedly I only see the news stories about abuses and not all of the times these laws help people so I cannot suggest any action. I just don’t know how large the issue is vs the good these laws do. I just see problems if people start thinking guns and stand your ground laws will fix anything.


I think most gun owners are reasonable people and I think most lawmakers are trying to draft laws that help the people. I also think poorly written laws have unintended consequences and maybe need to go back to the drawing board.


For those of you who think because of my karate or championing self defense – I ought to give stand your ground laws a pass with no critique – I disagree.


I hope you have enjoyed my point of view? Keeping in mind the rules of civility – what is your opinion?

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5 Responses to “Common Sense or Self Defense? Stand Your Ground Laws!”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    In Florida now they are testing the Stand Your Ground law with the Trayvon Martin killing by George Zimmerman. My guess is that he will be set free and the law will stand.

    I think that it’s very hard to know what really happened in many cases while others are very simple. This current Florida case, in my opinion, involved two people who share the blame except only one of them is dead.

    Like many laws, the intention is all right, but in practice it doesn’t always turn out that way. Of course my real feelings wishes none of this was needed. Being a surgeon who has had to fix so many of the results of violence can be quite sobering.
    Dr. J recently posted..Lab Notes: Old Technique May Prevent Cervical CancerMy Profile

  2. John W. Zimmer Says:

    Yep – this is not an easy one to evaluate Dr. J. Thanks for your thoughts.

  3. Female Martial Arts Fight Videos Says:

    I think Treyvon Martin’s case is a tragedy but in general stand your ground laws are a good thing. Yes, when stand your ground laws are passed self defense killings go up by around 100% but what is rarely talked about is the fact that VICTIMS dying in those states goes down by more than the increased number of criminal deaths. I am ok with criminals dying instead of the victims.

  4. Matt Klein Says:

    I share Female Martial Arts view, above, but common sense should prevail on the street. I learned a long time ago it is better not to engage in p*****g matches with other drivers. Better to ignore them if there is a problem, and having window tinting almost to the point of illegality is a good idea. If you lose it and give someone the finger, they can’t see it, plus they don’t know who they are dealing with. Keep your doors locked and keep your ego in check. Outside the vehicle, do not engage with loud, obnoxious people. If someone crosses the line, like you say John, give them some leeway as you don’t know what kind of day they are having, or what drug they are on. Be respectful and walk away. If you can’t make it clear to bystanders you don’t want anything to do with them. If need be, hit first and hit hard.

    We in Australia have to worry far less about guns because so few have them, although it is increasing.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Two Easy Ways to Build A Child’s Confidence and Self-EsteemMy Profile

  5. Self defense weapon guy Says:

    I believe in the right to self defense in any case where you feel you are truly in danger of attack.

    Here in NH we still have an “open gun law” which means we can legally carry as long as it’s not concealed. That being said… I still prefer to carry my stun gun and I also have a pepper spray for self defense.

    With these non lethal self defense weapons, if things get out of hand I can still defend myself without many of the legal (and moral) implications of killing anyone.

    P.S. love your site. Now that I know about it, I’ll be visiting again.