One of the privileges of being an American and adhering to the Second Amendment is having the right to bear arms. This hits closer to home if you’ve ever been in a position where you’ve had to defend yourself against someone trying to hurt you. Stand Your Ground laws, which are not valid in every state and vary in definition from state to state, allow you to protect yourself and your property against an assailant. The subject can be controversial and complex, so here are some tips on making sure you know the perimeters and implications.
Understanding Your Duty to Retreat
It’s easy to think — I have a pistol in my glove compartment, so I’m safe when out in public. It’s your right to conceal carry and open carry in specific states. Using your weapon at any time is your right but make sure you know some basic parameters, so the law doesn’t come after you.
Know about your duty to retreat. This means if you wind up in a situation that could result in bodily harm, you have to try to walk away or retreat from the situation safely. Most states enforce this provision. The goal is to prevent unwarranted violence or death without knowing for sure if the other person really has a gun or plans to actually perform bodily harm. But keep in mind that if you retreat and the person provokes, threatens and follows you, at that point, you have the right to protect yourself using lethal force. Same is true with the castle doctrine where you’re allowed to protect yourself if someone breaks in or threatens you on your own property inside your home — no retreating necessary.
Gun Reform Could Change This Law
It seems like Congress and lawmakers want to tighten the restrictions on the Stand Your Gun law and take away some of our rights. We can’t let that happen. They argue that the law encourages violence and racial bias. This, in turn, could cause people to misinterpret an action by another to ultimately provoke violence. The result could be a threatening exchange that could end in someone being trigger-happy.
There have been efforts to change the law, specifically in North Carolina with the Gun Safety Act. Thankfully it has been unsuccessful so far. To stay on top of the situation in your state, sign up for notifications on legislative actions. Contact your state senator and Vote “No” on any reform or restrictions so your right to protect yourself stays in place.
Classic Case of Self-Defense?
The Stand Your Ground law is similar to cases of self-defense. The only difference is the Stand Your Ground law states that because you have a firearm, you’re in control and can ultimately make that split-second decision to shoot to prevent a life-altering altercation. This is your right as an American citizen.
Keep in mind that this law is not federal, it’s a policy enforced by states. Similar to shoot first statues, where you’re allowed to shoot first if you feel threatened. The good news is, the Stand Your Ground law is in place to protect your 2nd amendment rights. So when you face a judge for a final decision as to whether you acted properly in self-defense, the law backs you up.
When the Stand Your Ground Law Is Not Enforceable
There are times when the law is not enforceable. It can’t be justified in states where the law has not passed. This could result in charges of manslaughter or homicide. Check your state laws to ensure you practice the proper safety measures in public. You must have good cause to shoot at someone who poses a threat, and the threat must be real. Someone who is disabled or didn’t understand your intent could be shot accidentally. The result is a misinterpretation with high-risk outcomes.
We must be diligent to retain our Second Amendment rights at all costs. Stand Your Ground is in place to protect our livelihood and rights as law-abiding citizens. Placing your vote and staying in touch with what’s changing with gun laws in your state will help all Americans stay protected.
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