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21 March 2012

In Defense of the Nation's Stand Your Ground Laws

The incident involving the shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, and its subsequent coverage by national media outlets, has brought renewed attention to the nation's "Stand Your Ground" laws.

It is an extreme stretch of the imagination for anyone to point to "Stand Your Ground" as the reason why Trayvon Martin's shooter is not behind bars today. When correctly applied, "Stand Your Ground" protects law-abiding citizens.


Several commentators have speculated that Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law is shielding the individual who shot Trayvon Martin from criminal prosecution and civil liabilities. These commentators (and I suspect the shooter of Trayvon Martin as well) are incorrectly misapplying Stand Your Ground.

As the author of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law told CBS News, the statute was never intended to protect a person who actively pursued and gunned down another when no reasonable threat existed.

"Stand Your Ground" was instituted in Georgia and thirty other states so that law-abiding citizens could have additional legal protections in defending themselves, their home, and their property.

In Georgia, where "Stand Your Ground" is on the books, an individual is immune from criminal prosecution and civil liabilities if that individual injures or kills while in defense of self or others; or while in defense of property other than a habitation.

A perfect example of "Stand Your Ground" being correctly applied can be found in Augusta, Georgia.

Five years ago this May, 84-year-old Frank Sams shot a thief who routinely stole items from his property.

23-year-old Lakashia Walker was shot while breaking into a home on Grand Boulevard this morning at around 3 o'clock.

Investigators say this is the third time this has happened in just two weeks.

Georgia's law allows you to defend yourself as soon as you feel threatened. And that seems to be what the 84-year-old homeowner did when he says the intruder broke into his garage.

The burglar hopped Frank Sams' fence and busted through his garage door.

"That's when I shot her," he said.

Baker, Stephanie (2007-5-4). Homeowner thankful for Stand Your Ground law. WRDW-TV. Retrieved on 2012-3-21.


Frank Sams said he was thankful for Georgia's "Stand Your Ground" law, and rightfully so. An 84-year-old World War II veteran shouldn't have to be worried about going to jail or being sued simply because he defended his property.

It is an extreme stretch of the imagination for anyone to point to "Stand Your Ground" as the reason why Trayvon Martin's shooter is not behind bars today. When correctly applied, "Stand Your Ground" protects law-abiding citizens. It does not, however, shield overzealous neighborhood watchmen from prosecution.