I ran across this post in a Facebook conversation:
"Self defense is a God given right."
I agree, but the way we implement that right is critical - literally a matter of life or death.
Today's "stand your ground laws" seem to reflect a value that a person's pride is more important than a human life.
Through centuries of Anglo-American experience and development, we came to a collective, societal decision that two criteria are needed to prevent self-defense principles from becoming a killing field, a license for murder.
The first was requiring retreat before using lethal force - I believe based on the idea that human life is more important than pride.
The second was the development of use of an objective standard in deriding whether the 'defender' acted reasonably - whether the defender was truly acting in self-defense. With the objective standard we ask - "would the 'reasonable person' in the shoes of the defendant have felt his life was in danger?"
These "stand your ground" laws mostly use a subjective standard - "did this defendant feel his life was in danger?"
The trouble with the subjective standard is that, in the real world, it is no standard at all - all we have is whatever the defendant decides to say. In operation, that is no standard at all.
Yes, an objective standard is, in the real world, somewhat hazy and difficult to establish - but it is still better than a meaningless subjective standard at all, which factor is neglected by these "stand your ground" laws.
Again, today's "stand your ground laws" seem to reflect a value that a person's pride is more important than a human life.
And I think that is huge step back into lawlessness within our society.
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Note: These thoughts are based mainly on what I remember from my one crim law course in 1978. There are details I'm sure I have forgotten, and nuances I've passed over.
I believe, however, that these two issues are at, should be at, the center of the discussion.