Stand Your Ground

Back in 1987, Florida set off a national trend by enacting a law which allows adults with a clean record, who pass a safety class, to obtain a permit to carry a concealed handgun for lawful defense. Although some states already allowed concealed carry, Florida’s 1987 law led to the concept spreading nationally, so that today 38 states have handgun carry laws similar to Florida’s. Now, a new Florida trend is spreading: “Stand your ground” laws.

Last year, Florida enacted a statute stating that victims of a violent felony attack do not have to retreat from the aggressor (even in a public place), and can use deadly force. Now, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has signed a Stand Your Ground law in his state, and the South Dakota legislature has enacted a similar law.

Because most Americans intuitively agree with the principle of self-defense, opponents of the law, such as the Brady Center, have resorted to making silly claims, such as asserting that the laws allow “a person who just feels something bad is going to happen to open fire in public.” A careful look at the Florida model, which I blogged about last year, leads to the conclusion that the Brady Center’s claims are unmerited.


  • The Florida stand your ground movement was prompted in part by the real threat of prosecution for using a firearm in self defense. A number of people were charged with serious crimes by overzealous anti-gun state attorneys following assertion of their right of self defense. I was among the lucky ones who could afford a decent defense attorney to defeat the charges. Some defendants without resources were coerced into a guilty plea to avoid a long prison sentence.

  • “…leads to the conclusion that the Brady Center’s claims are unmerited.”

    It is awfully polite of you to actually bother to find evidence that “the Brady Center’s claims are unmerited.” Most people who have been paying any attention no longer expend the effort, as it’s like looking for evidence that the Earth is round.