Journalism in the Public Interest

Five ‘Stand Your Ground’ Cases You Should Know About

Trayvon Martin is far from the only shooting in which the controversial law has been at issue. 

George Zimmerman, appears for a bond hearing with his attorney Mark O'Mara (R) at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility, Apr. 12, 2012 in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. (Photo by Gary Green/The Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images)

The Stand Your Ground law is most widely associated with the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old killed in Florida by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who claimed he was acting in self-defense.

But as a recent Tampa Bay Times investigation indicates, the Martin incident is far from the only example of the law’s reach in Florida. The paper identified nearly 200 instances since 2005 where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions, jury acquittals or a judge’s call to throw out the charges. (Not all the cases involved killings. Some involved assaults where the person didn’t die.)

The law removes a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force against another in any place he has the legal right to be – so long as he reasonably believed he or someone else faced imminent death or great bodily harm. Among the Stand Your Ground cases identified by the paper, defendants went free nearly 70 percent of the time.

Although Florida was the first to enact a Stand Your Ground law, 24 other states enforce similar versions. Using the Tampa Bay findings and others, we’ve highlighted some of the most notable cases where a version of the Stand Your Ground law has led to freedom from criminal prosecution:

· In November 2007, a Houston-area man pulled out a shotgun and killed two men whom he suspected of burglarizing his neighbor’s home. Joe Horn, a 61-year-old retiree, called 911 and urged the operator to “ ‘Catch these guys, will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go.’ ” Despite being warned to remain inside his home, Horn stated he would shoot, telling the operator, “ ‘I have a right to protect myself too, sir. The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.’ ”

Two months earlier, the Texas Legislature passed a Stand Your Ground law removing a citizen’s duty to retreat while in public places before using deadly force. In July 2008, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict Horn of any criminal charges.

· In Louisiana early this year, a grand jury cleared 21-year-old Byron Thomas after he fired into an SUV filled with teenagers after an alleged marijuana transaction went sour. One of the bullets struck and killed 15-year-old Jamonta Miles. Although the SUV was allegedly driving away when Thomas opened fire, Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre said to local media that as far as Thomas knew, someone could have jumped out of the vehicle with a gun. Thomas, said the sheriff, had “decided to stand his ground.”

Louisiana’s Stand Your Ground law was enacted just a year after Florida introduced its law.

· In March 2012, Bo Morrison was shot and killed by a homeowner in Wisconsin who discovered the unarmed 20-year-old on his porch early one morning. According to friends, Morrison was trying to evade police responding to a noise complaint at a neighboring underage drinking party. The homeowner, thinking Morrison was a burglar, was not charged by the local district attorney.

While Wisconsin doesn’t have a Stand Your Ground law that extends to public spaces, Gov. Scott Walker signed an “intruders bill” in December 2011 that presumes somebody who uses deadly force against a trespasser in their home, business or vehicle acted reasonably, whether or not the intruder was armed. Before the law was enacted, homeowners could only use deadly force if their own lives were at risk.

· In April, 22-year-old Cordell Jude shot and killed Daniel Adkins Jr., a pedestrian who walked in front of Jude’s car just as Jude was pulling up to the window of a Taco Bell drive-thru in Arizona. Jude claimed Adkins had waved his arms in the air, wielding what Judge thought was a metal pipe – it was actually a dog leash. Jude shot the 29-year-old Adkins, who was mentally disabled, once in the chest. As of May, an arrest had not been made in the April 3 shooting. Arizona passed a Stand Your Ground law in 2010.

· In January, a judge in Miami tossed out a second-degree murder charge against Greyston Garcia after he chased a suspected burglar for more than a block and stabbed him to death. The judge decided the stabbing was justified because the burglar had swung a bag of stolen car radios at Garcia – an object that a medical examiner at a hearing testified could cause “serious harm or death.” The judge found Garcia was “well within his rights to pursue the victim and demand the return of his property.”

Those sure are some real good examples but I sense they are being used to construct a narrative about the use of deadly force and stand your ground laws. Were you unable to find ANY examples of people using deadly force where there was really no question of the threat? Doesnt look like you tried to hard, because stories of people using firearms to defend themselves are much more common then the examples you listed above.

Take the example of Jay Rodney Lewis, who, unable to make his bond, was jailed for 112 days until his trial. He lost his home, his job and nearly everything he owned … just to be found not guilty by a jury for his use of deadly force. Lewis was involved in an altercation after a street race when two men attacked him. Despite Lewis giving the men ample warning of his intent to use deadly force, as well as Lewis’ background in law enforcement, the two men continued to advance on him when Lewis fired. Had Iowa been a “Stand Your Ground” state, Lewis would never have been charged … instead he lost everything he had.

Now, I’ve come to expect this ham handed treatment of 2nd amendment issues from the media and it would appear that ProPublica is no exception.

Better late than never. Many people were already suggesting that the law should be scrapped before we knew any of the details. My thought was, What’s the history behind that law? There had to be some cases behind it. We were hearing how unfair the law was, but we didn’t hear about the horrific cases that I knew must have led to its implementation. Unfortunately, we still don’t. While I found this article to be interesting, it didn’t touch upon the important issue: the people who have been victimized by the law because they were simply trying to protect their lives and property. Let’s hear the “story behind the story”. Let’s hear about those poor people who were victimized twice, once by criminals, and once by the state for defending themselves.  There are many such stories. Too bad the media can’t do its job and remind us of them.

I agree with Mike. You have a right to defend yourself.

Clark Baker (LAPD ret)

June 8, 2012, 4:56 p.m.

ProPublica and the Tampa Bay Times cite “nearly 200 instances since 2005” where the state’s Stand Your Ground law has played a factor in prosecutors’ decisions.  Unfortunately, they do not cite thousands of documented stories of armed self-defense between 2003-2010 (TheArmedCitizen-DOT-com).  These are tiresome arguments that have been conclusively answered by scholars like John Lott (MORE GUNS LESS CRIME, 1998).

One does not need to be a homicide detective to understand why conceal-carry (CCW) communities like Culver City endure a fraction of the violent crime endured by neighboring communities like Inglewood and South Los Angeles.  For every questionable CCW shooting, thousands of crimes are averted not because someone carries a concealed weapon, but because criminals don’t know who does and does not.  While Culver City (CA) typically suffers 2.5 homicides and 288 crimes per 100,000 in a given year, neighboring Inglewood typically suffers ten times as many (or more) in a given year.  The difference isn’t the poverty, but that the politicians who control these cities don’t trust that their law-abiding tax-paying constituencies are responsible enough (or smart enough) to own and carry handguns. 

When I worked a patrol car in South Los Angeles, my job would have been far easier if someone other than gangsters carried firearms.

None of us know the facts of the Martin case.  But regardless of its merits, Zimmerman does not reflect on the millions of other US gun owners any more than Lindsey Lohan’s poor driving reflects on US car owners.  The fact that liberals use cases like Travon Martin to push gun bans illustrates the weaknesses of their unconstitutional agenda.

John Wheat Gibson, Sr.

June 8, 2012, 4:57 p.m.

Self defense has been ground for legal killing at least since the Magna Carta.  There was no need for “stand your ground” laws to protect people who had to kill because they were reasonably afraid of death or serious injury.  The only purpose of the law is to excite the perverts of America who, along with the Obomber regime, advocate murder for fun but, unlike Obomber, cannot get their hands on drones and cruise missiles to do it with.  Human life means nothing to the owners of the US government and their sycophants.

john wheat gibson, sr.

June 8, 2012, 5:05 p.m.

Self defense has been ground for legal killing at least since the Magna Carta.  There was no need for “stand your ground” laws to protect people who had to kill to protect themselves or others.  The purpose of the “stand your ground” laws is to placate the perverts of America who, along with the Obomber regime, advocate murder for fun but, unlike Obomber, cannot get their hands on drones and cruise missiles to do it with.  Human life means nothing to the owners of the US government and their sycophants, and bringing the killing home is an ancillary result of the propaganda with which they have whipped the idiot masses into a frenzy of fear and hate to justify killing abroad.

People have the right to defend themselves and others in harms way. I felt your article bias and perhaps with the goal of suspending the second amendment.

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

June 8, 2012, 6:01 p.m.

The Propublica author cites a Tampa Bay newspaper article which supposedly established that 200 cases since since 2005 (when the FL stand-your-ground law was passed) were affected by that legislation. Sounds to me like the law is working as intended. The author then cites 5 cases(only one of the 5 a FL case) which might be considered, based upon the few facts presented in the article, to be questionable.
The obvious question is this:  If the FL stand-your-ground law appplied in 200 cases since 2005, how come we are presented with only one questionable case?  Surely many more of those 200 cases are no-brainers where, according to the record, the application of deadly force was clearly justified.

Byron Thomas and Cordell Jude should be in prison. They were not in imminent danger no matter how you look at it. BTW I am a legal gun owner with a C & license.

C & C license, carry and conceal.

I don’t see the point of these cases being brought up other than to inform readers of goings on in different states. It does make me not want to intrude on someone’s lawn, business or car in Wisconsin, a neighboring state to where I live, but I never had a habit of doing that anyway when I would visit Wisconsin.

Sounds like the Stand Your Ground laws were misused in the cited cases to shield or exonerate criminal violence by overly aggressive vigilante types (much like Zimmerman, perhaps).  Provoking a confrontation, then killing the person and claiming self defense, or shooting someone for simple trespassing are certainly not what the laws were meant to justify.  The blame for lack of prosecution lies with the police or district attorney or judge, not necessarily the law.

Let’s shoot everything. Forget the children. Forget peace. Forget warning someone with a gun and then letting them walk away instead of shooting them in cold blood. We are a nation of cold blooded killers who think video games don’t create a missperception of real life. We hate each other. We are missled to hate by the media. We are ignorant about the meaning of life. We assume things and act on impulse. Give us guns. Let’s shoot at everything and make laws that encourage us to kill in the name of paranoid delusional defense. I feel threatened. Too bad our nation is not brave enough to stand up and say enough is enough. Brave enough to say I fear no one. Brave enough to put down your guns and believe in your Gods. Did Jesus carry a gun? Did Moses? Where are the bible thumpers now? Why did they run away from this? Tell us what Jesus would say if he saw a nation of gun toting blood thirsty lunatics preaching death instead of peace. Did you know that bringing your kids down to Florida to go to Disney World is like bringing them to a shooting gallery and placing a target on their backs? Where are the corporations that don’t sell guns, and why are they not trying to stand up to the gun lobbyist that are profiting from turning our nation into a shooting gallery for idiots? Can this be good for businesses other than funeral homes and gun manufacturers? Look son, I fought for a nation where you can kill people and people can kill you, now here’s your gun. Go have some fun. I had put my guns away a long time ago, now I have to take them out again because I can’t trust paranoid idiots with guns. Know that while your screaming self defense and trying to shoot me for no reason, I’ll be ready to send you to hell in a glorious volley of bullets and smoke. It will look cool, just like you saw it you glorified in slow motion on the movie screens and video games, but it’s gonna hurt like hell and you won’t be able to get life back for another turn. If you’re lucky, you’ll die quick. If not, you may have to pack your gun on the side of a wheel chair, but don’t think you’ll be lucky cause I’m a great shot. I’ll make sure you meet the devil in hell where you belong because of your lack of true bravery in the real world. The devil scared you into packing a gun so you could do his bidding, cowering on earth, living in fear, and murdering people rather than preaching and walking with the true lord. Where is the outrage? Why aren’t we spilling out into the streets and planting flowers into the barrels of the gun toting lunatics? What are these lunatics going to tell their children? We were too stupid to think peace would work out so instead we killed everyone and drank their blood in the name of self defense. I love you son, but don’t get too close or my gun will go off and kill us both. Before these stupid laws, you could kill someone in self defense if it was justified. Now you can kill someone by mistake. Ooops, I shot a girl scout. Thought she was packing a gun. Sorry. Oh well. Self defense. Where’s my gun? I want it back.

In none of the five cases used as examples was the defendant injured or prevented from escaping by the “victim(s).”

That means Zimmerman has a much stronger case of self defense than any of them because he was injured and could not escape because Martin was on top of him.

In some cases, judges dissatisfied with the law seem to have released killers under SYG merely to stir up public outrage about the law.

I thought more of ProPublica than this. I can assure you that if I have a gun at hand and someone invades my home I will shoot to kill.

Any questions?

Propublica should do a better job of explaining what is wrong with the Florida law, for instance why attorneys general and law enforcement opposed it.  I think what many writing here are doing is imagining themselves in the position of the shooter as opposed to the position of the shootee.  As I understand it the Florida law makes it very difficult to prosecute someone who acts in an aggressive manner thereby creating a situation where deadly force is used.  Imagine a road rage incident where someone has gotten out of their car and is pounding on your window, if you open your door and knock him down and then while he is lying there he pulls out his gun and shoots you, he can claim self defense and you are dead.

So basically, in several of these stand your ground = chase down and kill.  And this makes for a safer world how?

Oh, and @Berryman1, what you’re essentially saying is that anyone who breaks into your home should make sure they’re better armed than you.  Seriously, you think that’s a good thing?  How would you feel about guns if your child had found your gun and taken it to school?  Or accidentally shot   him- or herself (most gun deaths are not criminals getting shot, but rather accidents).

I suppose you’ll say “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.  Guns just make it a whole lot easier.

In fact, I think it’s probably sensible to equate a gun culture, as shown in the US over the last few decades, with a tribal, kill or be killed culture that most of us thought had disappeared when replaced by modern civilisation.  I’m sad to see that’s not the case, and that mankind can easily revert to pre-civilisation attitudes.

Your tendency to violence does not make your home a safer place.

Not civilized? Which is more “civilized?”
(a) you are unarmed.  An armed intruder breaks into your home and shoots you and steals your possessions and gets away. or

(b) you are armed, an intruder breaks in intent on doing bodily harm if necessary in order to steal your possessions.  You shoot him and no one is harmed except the intruder.

I am not verifying data, but I read statistics saying in 2008 a burglary happened about every 14 seconds somewhere. 70% were residential.

Same year, the average loss was $2079.


It would be nice if the author told readers the explicit criteria used to select the 5 cases chosen.  You cite 1/200 cases in Florida where, you say, the application of SYG laws was “important.”  Are we to believe the other 199 Florida cases were legitimate instances of self-defense that did not merit mention or elaboration?  What percent of those cases resulted in death versus injury?  What percent of those cases involved use of a firearm by the survivor, since SYG applies to defense without firearms not just with them?  What percent of SYG cases where firearms were used (lawfully, it seems) by the crime victim were cases in response to the *illegal* use of a firearm or weapon by an attacker?  In how many cases of SYG defenses, did the person injured—-the assailant—-have a *legally*-possessed weapon? 

Because any law that works as intended 199/200 times sure sounds like it’s more effective than most laws in this country.

Of the other 24 states, did each have 199 instances of appropriate self-defense or justifiable homicide under SYG?  Why were you only able (or willing) to report five cases were the law *may* have been counter-productive or mis-applied?  If Florida’s experience is representative, the clear implication of your omission is that SYG has apparently *saved* the lives of citizens who faced a threat of lethal harm in 4,776 cases (24x199).  That kind of success in a nation with tens of thousands of *un*-justified homicides per year seems remarkably positive.

Now, perhaps you’ll write a story showcasing instances where SYG worked to prevent the death of crime *victims* instead of seemingly anomalous cases like these?  Or perhaps a story about the number of murders in America where the police were called but did not arrive in time to prevent the death of the *innocent* victim?  Wanna bet that number is a whole lot higher than five?

Really, who pays you all to write this stuff?  As a former journalist, I have to wonder. This cherry-picking is dramatically unpersuasive.  I expect better from ProPublica, but perhaps I shouldn’t.

@Arliey, the lack of civilisation lies in believing violence is going to solve your problems.  The “eye for an eye” culture.  The violence begetting violence.

This is where there is a lack of civility, and it’s embodied in laws that encourage violence.

You’ve stated that a burglar breaks into your home and shoots you before stealing your stuff.  Why would they need to shoot you, except that you offer violence?

Why do they need to steal, for that matter?  To feed a drug habit that makes them criminals and means they pay ridiculous prices for that fix?  Because they haven’t got a job and haven’t got any social security?  Violence doesn’t fix these problems any more than crime does - both are just symptoms of larger problems.

What a sad world we live in, its like the wild west all over again, except its now the “Legal Wild West”. I want to move me and my family to the moon, where there is no guns, criminals or moronic, egotistical, know-it-all politians who believe they have answers to all lifes problems.

I’m left numb by how its “so ok” to just take someones life all because you have the power to.

Truly the devils playground, the world has become.

Walter D. Shutter, Jr.

June 9, 2012, 4:40 a.m.

Stephen makes a good point, Arliey.  If you offer no resistance there is no logical reason for an intruder to harm you or your family.  In fact, if you were truly civilized, you would help him carry your valuables out to his car and make him a sandwich before he leaves.

This is in reply to Arley.

Arley makes a very good case in a cut and dried sort of way.  But things go horribly wrong if everything does not go according to plan.
Questions:  In scheme (b.) what if the intruder is also armed, high, desperate, and quicker on the draw?  Assuming that you successfully shoot the intruder, can you live with the trade-off of having killed a fellow human being for the sake of still owning a fancy TV set?

Please don’t get me wrong; I do not disagree with Arley, I think there is much more depth to this question.  I live in Canada where we have pretty strict gun laws, and so my prejudices are different from most people posting here.

Perhaps a much more important question should be something like this.  Is it not better for society as a whole (and a lot cheaper) to work for better policing, security, societal programs, education, job prospects, etc.?
Yes, I know that makes me a liberal, socialist, etc.  But my glasses are not rosy-coloured, (all right then, rosy-colored), and my heart does not bleed.  I would tend to punch that burglar lights out just as much as the next guy.  I just feel that there has to be a better way than this all-pervading violence that is creeping everywhere.

Cheers, all.

Greg Strockbine

June 9, 2012, 1:17 p.m.

Not a day goes by, that I have to kill someone.  This world is a cesspool and you can’t trust anyone.  Thank God Almighty I am allowed to carry a gun.  I have won every single case, because the police know the world is full of animals.

Now walking in front of someone’s car at a drive-thru is an act of aggression you can die for. I suggest in addition to “Stand your ground” these states need a “Walk freely” law to protect pedestrians in public places.

The tenor of some of these comments seems to equate the absence of a stand your ground law with the crimilization of the use of deadly force for self defense.  This is not correct. Again I feel that those who are most agitated by criticism of th SYG law are imagining themselves as the person claiming self defense as opposed to the dead.  The problem with the law is that it short circuits the judicial system. That might be fine if we lived in a world where only good people used deadly force but we do not. The SYG law provides protection not only for a homeowner defending his family but also for a drug dealer defending his turf from that homeowner.

It’s hard to ignore the intellectual disparity between the pro- and anti- 2nd Amendment crowd.  While the PROs understand the historical need of free people to protect themselves from predation and tyranny, and ANTIs ignore centuries of human history to support their own conclusions.

Does anyone serious think that the United States could have secured its independence from England without guns?

Would slavery or World War II have ended favorably without guns?

If Syrians enjoyed a 2nd Amendment, would Assad dare to wage war on his countrymen?

Guns level the playing field.  At the very least, the 2nd Amendment makes predators think twice before mugging someone.

“The SYG law provides protection not only for a homeowner defending his family but also for a drug dealer defending his turf from that homeowner. “

In a word, bull$hit .. SYG laws specificly exclude criminal behavior.

in today’s US of A, guns don’t level the playing field.  They make the guy with the gun win.  The guy with the gun is right.

The George Zimmerman photos, showing the cut on the back of his head, is proof Tray Von was standing his ground, against Zimmerman.  It was Zimmerman who started the confrontation.

If Tray Von had been strapped, then he would be alive and Zimmerman dead.  The guy with the gun wins.

Mike H, consider this: I’m a dealer and some guy comes up to me and starts getting in my face and telling me I have to get off the corner.  Things get heated, he punches me, I’m on the ground like Zimmerman so I cap him.  SYG is going get me off.  Look at the Miami Herald article called “Stand Your Ground: a get out of jail free card”. It mentions two cases in Daytona Beach where SYG was used to prevent prosecution in cases of drug deals gone bad.  “...the accused shooters had permits to carry concealed weapons and they claimed they were defending themselves at the time.”

I hate it when the liberalist and biased media tries to make people look bad when hey really thought they were in danger and tried to defend themselves. A friend of mine told me that a neighbor saw a man break into a neighbors house. So he shot the burglar but since the burglar was black, people called foul and said it was an act of racism. The guy who shot the burglar faced lawsuits and had to go to court for months. N

So why is there no outcry about the rest of these cases?  The case involving Daniel Adkins/Cornel Lamar Jude happened at the same time as the Trayvon/Zimmerman incident.  Jude still has not been arrested.  Why has the media worldwide obsessed about one and completely ignored the other?  The NYT has over 50 stories about Trayvon and zero about Adkins.

This article is another great example of why media, especially the “headline with no substance” media cannot be trusted to present unbiased information on any important topic.

It misstates a simple law, removing the pre firearms English law of duty to retreat, and requiring probable cause prior to arrest. Despite the view of newspapers the basic laws of self defense have not been changed. What is prevented is the practice of arresting guilty and innocent alike, punishing both with the huge cost of defense at a trial, and the use of threats via overcharging to force plea bargains without due process.

Some guilty ALWAYS have escaped conviction, hopefully that will always be true as it is a fundamental principal of our laws that no innocent person be convicted. Better 10 guilty go free than one innocent be convicted. We still convict too many innocent via plea bargains and other legal tricks.

Well, it seems the gun nuts are out in full force here. Some NRA fan must have put out the call to flood the comments here, because I doubt regular Pro Publica readers are this gun happy. Can someone produce even a single case where a black citizen was able to defend himself against a white person using these ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws? I didn’t think so. This is a whites only club and if Trayvon Martin had been the neighborhood watcher, he’d be sitting in a cell. So for all you scared whiteys who think these laws are fine, and you SHOULD be able to kill anyone of color for making you nervous, maybe your life isn’t worth defending? Maybe society as a whole would be better off if you let those scary colored people get you.

Seems some miss what to me is the point of the article, stand your ground has allowed what would have been manslaughter or murder charges in the past because a firearms owner thought someone might endanger their life so they shot first instead of walking away.  Some of you are implying you can shoot anyone anywhere simply because you thought you might be in danger or your property was threatened without bearing the burden to prove either.  That is ludicrous and has never stood the test of law until now with idiot Republicans and their manufactured crises.

This article isn’t laying the ground work to suspend the 2nd Amendment.  Some of you are ignorant of the fact that would take another Amendment to the Constitution to rescind the 2nd Amendment and that would have to pass 3/4 of the states within the time limit (currently 7 years) set by Congress.  If you do not understand what the Constitution means or the process to amend the Constitution please STFU.

The 2nd Amendment protects me from my government and an armed populace is the last check on the government or so the Federalist Papers frame the argument.

I am one of those cold dead hands people when it comes to firearms, the 2nd Amendment gives me the right to keep and bare arms to protect myself from my government.  Not to shoot someone because I thought they might possibly mean me harm when I could easily walk away.

Everyone is talking about ” guns” I am sixty yo. Do not need a gun do not own a gun will not pick up a gun. I live in NJ no syg law here. Fine out how fast I will stand my ground?
The problem is not syg law problem is enforcement of laws already on the books and getting the police and courts to enforce them!
Call the cops and see how long it takes them just to show up?
If you want to watch a good side show go spend a day in the city court” great cash cow for city and state” !!!!!!
No body wants to get harmed.
Ask any person with a CIB award what they live with every day? That is if you can get them to talk about it. The people that are against SYG laws my only wish,hope, or prayer is that you never are in a position where you have to make a make a choice “me, my wife or child, or them”! For me there is no choice it will be them! And NO GUN!

Phil Phyfer

June 10, 2012, 6 a.m.

I believe that a person should have the right of self-defense, but it must be balanced.  Should it be merely a right to kill?  I do not think so.
In most of the cases that are under discussion the victims are not around to tell their side of the story.  Can we take a person’s life over a bag of radios, a fancy TV set, or because he has ‘invaded the sanctity of our neighborhood’?
I think that this law is simply to one-sided.  It should be discarded or at least rewritten.

Cheers, all.

My take away from the article is this: SYG laws should not be setting precedent for cases cited where a citizen goes beyond defending self to vigilante behavior as in going after a person burglarizing another’s property. 
Having untrained folks with the mindset that they have a right to defend themselves when in fact there is not a direct threat to them is setting up situation that will eventually lead to much tragedy and a potential to erode justice in America.
If you read through the list, there are some items that should give reasonable people pause.
Firing 8 shots at someone unarmed that lunged at you while jogging after midnight with a laser fitted semi-automatic handgun and with the wounds to chest and back – is that reasonable?
If this was done by a member of a law enforcement agency shown to be shooting someone in the back – they might face legal action - This person was not charged.

Daniel Boehmer

June 10, 2012, 8:07 a.m.

The Florida case this article cites was the subject of a documentary on TV (48 hours), and there are a lot of details this article left out.  According to the robber’s accomplice’s video-taped confession, the robber had stolen a car radio out of this man’s truck several times over the previous weeks.  He laughed at how he was going to rob the stupid guy’s truck again.  This time, the owner of the truck had looked at his window and saw the radio being stolen.  In a hurry, he grabbed a kitchen knife and ran out of his apartment to catch the guy.  As he closed in on the robber, the guy turned around and swung at him, and in the ensuing scuffle, the guy stabbed the robber. 

By the way, the robber was a career thief.  The owner of the truck was a hard working immigrant from central america.  And, he had to endure a harrowing trial before he “got off”. 

This is hardly a case where an innocent is harmed.

I support your reporting and your publishing this story. It looks like the NRA has called its members to write rebuttals to this story. Constitution does also have a article which allows the justice system to handle the crimes that may have POTENTIALLY have occurred. The SYG laws should not allow citizens with guns to PURSUE POSSIBLE PERPETRATORS. Gun owners have not been assigned as justice deputies and judges. I am appalled that all of these comments. Gun owners think they need more power. Just like the origin of the SYG laws come from ALEC, a big business lobbying group, which also has pushed for increased penalties for minor victemless,non violent crimes,such as Stop and Frisk laws which supplies a consistent flow of prisoners to private prisons. The private prisons have put in their govt contracts which REQUIRES 90% occupancy for 25 YEARS.
PROPULICA keep doing a good job. You are the few remaining TRUE INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM!!! GREAT JOB!!!

I have no problem with protecting myself and family but when a person persues another and then says they were threatened,this is no longer “protecting"but enforceing! It is bad enough that many in law enforcement have decided we don’t need courts and now we have the lynch mob mentality! I would like to see data regarding cases where a black person invoked the Stand our Ground statute and if they were tried and convicted especially if the victim is not African American! I am not black,was in law enforcement in the 70’s and am Native American!

My opinion, for now: If we keep convicted violent criminals in prison, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about shooting them. Parole needs to be for non-violent criminals. Also, we can make it easier to introduce new evidence, after a conviction, so that wrongly convicted people can get out of prison. My opinion, for now. Thank you.

How do we know that we, one of our family members, or one of our friends won’t be the next target for a Stand Your Ground shooter? Thank you.

David McKinnon

June 10, 2012, 1:14 p.m.

I live in Australia. Thank you for your publication it has sparked investigative and rigorous journalism in our country as it becomes more well known. Your fracking stories frighten us, as CSG seems about to run rampant here.

To guns, I grew up on a farm and was taught by my father, like he was by his, the rules for gun safety. I broke one of his rules once and he made me pay dearly for it, fortunately no accident occurred. A few years ago in our country there was a terrible spree killing 35 dead - at Port Arthur it’s all over google. We never had gun ownership as free as you do in the USA there was always some regulation and pistols and automatic weapons were never really accessible legally except in clubs or to collectors. We never had gun shows, and have no legal right to bear arms like you have under the 2nd amendment. After Port Arthur it got a lot tighter.

This SYG issue worries me, it seems to be a get out of jail free card in circumstances where there may not have been the need to produce a gun let alone use one with deadly intent. When I was about 20yrs old some football friends and I stayed in the local town after our game to go to the local night spots and generally do what 20yr old men do, we hadn’t been drinking but had bought some for the drive home to the farm. I always had my guns in my car, it was just habit and back then as long as you had a license then perfectly legal. I had a bolt action 22 a shotgun and a hunting rifle with scope. The rifles were loaded but nothing was chambered. I also had a powerful spotlight to point at any kangaroos or foxes we might see on the way home.

We stopped for takeaway food on our way out of town and one of my friends - there’s always one - flipped off a car that cut me off as I turned in. We went to order our burgers and thought nothing further of it. The other driver did and he turned around and parked next to my car he and his mates got out and we were outnumbered 4 to 6 they were older stronger men too not boys like us. Well they started into us and we tried as well as we could to protect ourselves but were taking a hiding. I was pushed into the back seat of my car with a very large angry man on top of me. Remember the loaded guns were on the sill behind the back seat hidden under a rug.

My face was really copping a pounding - nose still shows the bump - when the police arrived. The shop owner had called it in. When I heard the siren my hand was reaching for my .22,, the police arrived, the rifle stayed where it was and the other guys were arrested. How different my life could have been had I reached up a little sooner. Under SYG I would have been within my rights I guess to grab all the weapons and pass them around. We have self defence laws here but I’m glad I never had to use it. Even thinking on it now some 30 yrs later I can’t justify using the gun, I was getting beaten and it was there but to have shot the man on top of me is that what society is about. I’m glad I didn’t have to make the choice and that the police were guys we knew from football that day.

My life experience could happen to any young American boy, do you want him pulling his gun and relying on SYG? Remember in our case no weapons were used against us but we were being beaten up.

I live in the city now and don’t have any guns or need for them. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decisions Americans do about what may impact on me or my family.

Typical left of Lenin journalism.  All relevant facts carefully left out of the story.  E. g. what exactly did Mr. Morrison do when discovered?  He was on the porch… he got shot leaves a lot of relevant information out.

Being a victim is frightening. 
Waiting in the dark at 5:00 AM whispering on the phone while an intruder is trying to break into your child’s bedroom is frightening.  During those long minutes your heart is racing, you are trying to protect your family.  You are hiding in the hallway with everyone behind you, the babies are asleep.  Then you discover the police are dispatched to the wrong location.
Slidell Louisiana 1989.

vehicle burglary Sugarland, Texas 2002, damage and loss $4300
company parking lot

Vehicle burglary Houston, Texas 2007, Damage and loss $2200
health club parking lot

Vehicle burglary Houston, Texas 2008, Damage and loss $4000
Academy parking lot, cameras poorly located

Vehicle burglary Houston, Texas 2009, Damage and loss $800
home driveway

Vehicle theft and burglary Houston, Texas 2009,
  Vehicle trashed but recovered, $3000 damage
  Personal property loss, $800
Vehicle was solen at property tax office parking lot, in full view of security cameras.  The thieve required 20 seconds to break-in, and 55 seconds to break the starter socket and drive off.

The Academy thefts were conducted by an organized family crime ring.  They are part of many gangs who operated along the I-10 corridor in West Houston, and target public lots, skipping down the highway for random opportunities.  Later arrests of three family members led to the discovery of the family hiding dozens of laptops, electronics and other personal items from too many victims to count.  The one involved in my theft received six months jail time.  The family is still in business.

The three thieves who stole my truck were caught within 18 hours, sleeping in the vehicle.  One was a juvenile, one was sentenced 30 days for trespass, the driver was sentenced to six months for auto theft.

The Slidell case was a gang initiation—break into a house with people sleeping and take a souvenir.

Personal losses fall below home deductible amounts.  Most of the loss is body damage to the vehicle.  Factory car alarms on most vehicles are inadequate and should be the subject of a major consumer investigation.  All of the vehicle incidents occurred to the two Ford trucks I owned over the years.  Fords are a very choice target for thieves who take them back across the border, Mexico…

Being a victim is very frightening.  At some point you become afraid because the thugs are used to getting their own way and do not believe the law can catch them.  They also like people being afraid to arm or protect themselves.

I don’t go looking for victimization.  The thieves are in my driveway, my grocery store, my shopping mall, and even brazenly in the parking lots of government buildings on camera and stealing.  It is hard to retreat when you are surrounded.

The question not asked is how many times can law abiding citizens be victimized?  How many times before they crawl into a corner and shiver in the dark, or fight back.  Everyone is different.

Much of our crime is gang related and organized, from the drug dealers to the point of sale, and the users.  The thieves who tried to destoy my way of life were all under the age of 26, mostly in the 17-21 range, no skills, no motivation to work honestly, and no moral responsibility.  They steal from strangers, their families, and the people in their neighborhoods.  Threre are no morals, no code, no TV version of harmless crooks just trying to get by.

The one thing I have noticed on the examples used was one blatant falsehood. SYG cannot be invoked by one who is commiting a crime period.
Here in Texas we have some pretty relaxed SD laws. One thing is made very clear. Be legal when you pull out your weapon. The cops will search your car or house looking for evidence of wrongdoing leading to a shooting including a urinalysis.  Since I am considering getting my CHL I’ve been doing some reading on the laws that protect the good guys.
I pray to God that moment never arrives. I also pray for him to steady my hand if it does.

I live in Atlanta GA. Last July I was walking home with a friend from a concert on a Sunday night when i was held at gunpoint by a convicted felon whom demanded everything we had. I gave him my iPhone, one dollar in cash and my credit cards. Well, this wasn’t good enough for him so he attempted to take us into the park across the street to “finish this.” Fortunately we were able to able to run seperate directions and get away however, if I were alone that night I’d most likely be dead. I applied for my Georgia weapons carry permit the next day. Weeks later after receiving my permit my gun has never left my side.

It’s not paranoia if these things are actually happening. People walk with a sense of false security, I know I sure as hell did before this happened to me. Now I pay attention to crime reports in my area and this same type of crime happens multiple times a week, sometimes people are killed, innocent people killed. Yeah yeah you bleeding heart liberals want to say society is to blame and yeah, you might be right but let me see you walk up to the thug off Boulevard and explain that to them so they will stop robbing and killing innocent tax paying citizens. They will laugh in your face and then take all of your stuff at gunpoint.

How can you take a few oddball cases and make it into an argument when there have been so many more cases where gns have saved lives from criminals. Just look up gunssavelives dot org. I carry because I want to live my life without the fear of it being taken by some convicted felon who is still on parole and can’t get a job so he steals a dollar out of my pocket. Don’t believe me??!! Google the name Roy Latimore and you’ll see the type of person who you need to be afraid of taking you life for a dollar in your pocket.

People are easily corrupted and our founding fathers knew this which is why the 2nd ammendment exists. The huge majority of gun owners are responsible and contributing members of society. These types of articles is the same this as saying that we should suspend everyone’s drivers licenses because of vehicular homicide, or that we should ban knives because people decide to use them to kill people. Believe me, people will kill no matter if guns exist in society or not.

First, full disclosure, I hate guns.  I think they’re rotten tools.  They’re loud, they smell, and they take an obscene amount of training and maintenance to control.  They’re designed for war, not defense, and I hope to never need to use one.

However, I have two words for the people opposed to Stand Your Ground:  Marissa Alexander.  Tell me with a straight face that she should be considered a murderer for not having found a miraculous way to escape and not becoming a statistic.

The fact that the law is too liberally applied doesn’t make it a bad idea.  Enforcement needs to be fixed is all.

On top of that, Matt’s right, but forget about knives.  You do all realize that a car is basically a one-ton battering ram with the equivalent of five sticks of dynamite in the gas tank, right?  And yet, we trust one to anybody who can parallel park, without every college kid committing vehicular homicide immediately on making his first grocery run.

john wheat gibson, sr.

June 11, 2012, 11:24 a.m.

You should have done your homework, John.  Marissa Alexander did invoke the Florida “Stand Your Ground” law.  She was convicted anyway.  She also pled self defense.  Perhaps the jury knew something the media did not tell you and me.  But in any event, her case in no way vindicates “Stand Your Ground” laws.  Self defense was a perfectly valid reason for prosecutors to exercise their discretion not to prosecute, or for juries to acquit, long before any “Stand Your Ground” law was passed.  Pandering to paranoid gun nuts, to keep their minds of their real problems—such as home foreclosure, unemployment, lack of health care, poor education for their children—is the only purpose of “Stand Your Ground” legislation.

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