STAND YOUR GROUND: DON’T BRING A GUN TO A FIST FIGHT
Many states have enacted so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws (SYG) that allow people to defend themselves against a perceived threat. The law states that a person has no duty to retreat if he/she has a legal right to be there and may use any level of force, even lethal, against an attacker if he/ she believes there is an immediate threat of bodily harm or death. This applies in homes and out in public.
People are very confused about SYG laws and what it means in the way of self defense. The media has inaccurately portrayed SYG laws to mean that people are out on the streets going crazy and shooting everyone like a wild west movie. This simply isn’t reality. The reality is that most people who argue SYG as a defense do not win, especially if a gun is involved. The laws involving firearms usage are extremely harsh and have little empathy for aggressive gun users.
Stand Your Ground is an affirmative defense. That means you can be legally arrested and forced to go to trial. The burden then shifts to you to prove that you acted in self defense. You have to convince a jury, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that your life was in jeopardy and using a firearm was the only means of escape. Sometimes there are no independent witnesses who can testify on your behalf. If the only other witness is dead (the aggressor), the jury is going to sympathize with the loss of a life and your attacker will be portrayed as a “victim.” Every move and decision you made will be overly criticized and judged. The jury wasn’t there – they won’t have the benefit of the “heat of the moment” adrenaline-induced split second reality of what you experienced in real life. If you lose, you could be convicted of serious crimes such as aggravated assault, manslaughter or even murder.
Just because you don’t have a duty to retreat, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t retreat if you can. While people have a right to defend themselves, this right does not give gun owners a free pass to whip out a firearm anytime conflict arises. Pulling out a weapon should be the very last resort. If someone confronts you in the street, you have the option to run away, take an aggressive stance, yell and scream, or even fight if needed.
If you ever find yourself in the midst of a confrontation, ask yourself this question: Is this going to end with the loss of my life, or will I spend the rest of my life in prison? If you feel going to prison is a better option than enduring the threat that’s looming upon you, then maybe (just maybe) you would be justified in pulling out a weapon. Otherwise, don’t bring a gun to a fist fight. What if a neighbor walking her dog walks up after the fact and sees you pointing a gun at your seemingly unarmed, innocent attacker? Suddenly the tables are turned and you have just become the bad guy. Who will the jury believe? Perhaps you will eventually win the case. But do you want to spend time in jail and a LOT of money on an attorney to prove your point?