There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the so-called “Stand-Your-Ground Rule.” A great deal of the misinformation is from the media, which should know better.
Some of the misinformation is the assertion that the “Stand-Your-Ground Rule” is one of radical and recent origin; and confined to one particular state, being the state of Florida. However, the rule is older than our republic itself; and will be found to have been part of the English common law, that was actually adopted by the thirteen American colonies, before we even had our own Constitution.
The rule most commonly comes up in relationship to that form of self-defense, which involves the use of force in one’s defense; and most especially, the use of “deadly force”, as opposed to “non-deadly force”.
Generally, it’s almost universally true in our culture, that one is entitled to use that degree of reasonable force, necessary to defend one’s self As long as the force is “reasonable” under the circumstances, the defender should be viewed as being involved in self-defense, as a privileged activity —– but that’s just where the problem lies: just exactly what is “reasonable” force, under a particular circumstance?
If the amount of force that is utilized by the defender is greater than the force utilized in the attack on the defender, the question might arise as to whether the force is reasonable under the circumstances; and specifically, whether the defender has become an aggressor (by the use of excessive or unreasonable force); and therefore punishable under the Law.
It could be said, that the so-called “Stand-Your-Ground Rule”, is a contradiction of an older and more pervasive rule, known as the “Retreat Rule”. Generally, the “Retreat-Rule” demands that one should all available means of escape, before using any force at all, in self-defense. While it is true that the “Retreat Rule” is rare in such an extreme form; it’s equally true, that when the defensive force might become “extreme” or “deadly force,” it would be required that the defender use any reasonably available avenues of escape, to avoid serious injury,
In the final analysis, the “Stand-Your-Ground-Rule” could be said to stem from a philosophical response to the question of self-defense. The Rule reasons, that if one is in a place where the one has a right to be, there should be no requirement to “move an inch,” in response to an unprovoked attack, let alone, “retreat-to-the-wall.”
In deed, that is in fact the law in some jurisdictions; where one would be entitled to use injurious, and even deadly force, if it is demanded that the one must move from a place the defender merely has a right to be.
Now, and even if it is not the majority rule in the country, if a particular state should determine by a democratic vote of its legislature, that it will adopt a law such as the “Stand-Your-Ground Rule.” it would be free to do so, absent a Federal Constitutional conflict.
As far as the State of California is concerned, deadly force would be deemed unreasonable, if non-deadly force would be obviously sufficient to avert a threatened harm. Even non-deadly force would be unreasonable, if it were obviously and substantially in excess of what would be needed for the particular defense.
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