Niagara Gazette

July 23, 2013

CONFER: In defense of 'Stand Your Ground'

By Bob Confer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Imagine that you are involved in a potentially deadly situation in which a group of thugs has approached you and threatened violence. In a perfect world, you would defend yourself by exercising your natural right to self-defense by brandishing a firearm to scare them off or, if necessary, fire upon them to neutralize the threat, exerting the same deadly force they had intended to use upon you.

But, this isn’t a perfect world. In more liberal states, like New York, the Laws of Nature are minimized by the Laws of Man, and you don’t have a right to protect yourself, your family, or property without making some accommodations for the evil-doer. Even though a robber — whose title could easily escalate to “rapist” or “murderer” — obviously does not have your best interests in mind, you must afford him a certain level of safety with your state-mandated duty to retreat.

Duty to Retreat laws require that you forgo acts of survival. The laws demand that you do everything in your power to avoid conflict and/or the use of deadly force. Before assuming the responsibility to protect yourself, you must resort to mandated cowardice by seeking retreat. Following that, the situation must escalate to the point that the courts see "reasonable" belief that injury and death could occur and then, and only then, can you take up the measures necessary to suppress the attacker. The fact that the attacked cannot display a weapon until the situation has reached critical mass is truly absurd. The seconds — or even minutes — associated with having to hide from an attacker can be the difference-maker for the physical safety, sexual safety, or life itself of the innocent. Dropping your defenses gives the one on offense — the criminal — the supreme advantage.

A law-abiding citizen has no understanding of what’s going through the mind of a lawbreaker. Really, he has no obligation to, either. But, many state governments see it otherwise. They want you to believe — and wrongly at that — that the individual who was demented enough to commit the initial crime has no intent to harm you; he might only want your property, so you really shouldn’t harm him.

It’s the lunacy of such unconstitutional and unconscionable Duty to Retreat laws that led Florida and 30 other states to recognize the uninhibited right to self-defense with the Stand Your Ground law, which allows the attacked to utilize deadly force immediately — and without the friendly considerations of Duty to Retreat — as long as there is a belief of an imminent threat of death or bodily harm. Unlike the similar Castle Doctrine, which allows the same only in one’s home, Stand Your Ground allows the use of force in public. So, the victim would be able to protect himself or his loved ones were he up against a break-in in his residence or an attempted robbery on the street.

Under Stand Your Ground, the burden of proof falls upon the criminal who initiated the crime, not the law-abider who retaliated. That is in stark contrast to Duty to Retreat, whereby the criminal has the legal advantage because the victim is himself painted as a criminal (and is more likely guilty until proven innocent) because he must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he met all the necessary criteria before pulling the trigger.

Stand Your Ground makes perfect legal, moral and natural sense: It allows the prey to retaliate against the predator with force commensurate with that potentially levied against him; there’s no need to take a wait-and-see approach, which could in most cases result in the injury, rape, or murder of the victim.

Stand Your Ground is one of the clearest state-level interpretations of some of the basal tenets behind our Second Amendment. Were the states to eliminate it — and further restrict our rights — it would take Duty to Retreat to a whole new level: Duty to Die.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer