President Obama is uncomfortable with the idea that an armed citizen facing a violent attack doesn’t have to retreat if he/she can do so. “If we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?” (This despite the fact that Obama Voted to Strengthen Illinois’s Stand Your Ground Law in 2004.) Yes, well, never mind the “good for society” part. Or the legal aspect. Do you believe that you should retreat in a violent attack if you can? Is there a moral mandate to at least try to GTFO when facing the prospect of a defensive gun use?

170 Responses to Question of the Day: Duty to Retreat?

    • Depends on circumstances in every case.

      In this case, retreat to where?
      Would retreating put her in even greater jeopardy?
      She leaves her car which is a form of refuge and escape, her options become less attractive. She runs, he gives chase; now what, HOPE that something happens to stop the attack.

      From my 20/20 hindsight, under the circumstances, she did what she had to do!

  1. Duty to retreat DURING a violent attack? No.

    Duty to retreat BEFORE a violent attack occurs? You should, but I dont think there should be a law requiring this.

    • This. I think there is an undue emphasis on preventing conflict and deescalating a situation before it reaches the point of violence or threat of violence. That said, if it comes to it then by all means we all have the right to do what is necessary to end the conflict, hopefully without use of violent force but if necessary then, well, that’s one reason we take up arms in today’s society.

      • For me, it’s a practical consideration. If I can avoid shooting someone, I can avoid any potential negative consequences that could follow (dealings with overzealous cops, prosecutors, Attorneys General, Presidents, etc.) However, if it comes down to a choice between that circus and death, send in the clowns.

    • There’s an argument to be made (and one with which I sympathize) that it does society (and the taxpayer) some good to kill those who would prey upon innocent victims, and if one is in a confrontation with someone like that it is a morally good thing to do. For if not you, then who would they prey upon later? An old lady? A single parent?

      I would feel a lot more comfortable in a place with fewer state-enforced death penalties but more justifiable self-defense homicides, because I trust the average citizen more than the average civil servant or politician.

      • The corollary to this is that I personally have very little to gain and very much to lose from an avoidable DGU. The guiding principles of carriage of a handgun have been stated by others to be “De-escalate, De-fuse and De-part”, this plus situational awareness should be the prime guiding principles of people who choose to go about armed. If you get into a situation that you cannot de-escalate, defuse or depart from, then you’re moving toward the use of firearm, but whenever those opportunities present themselves you need to take advantage of them.

        People are going to be rude bastards now and then but my CHL does not entitle me to correct their behavior. Some people are going to be violently confrontational, but I am not the Confrontation Police because I have a CHL. I would always rather talk my way out of a confrontation than shoot my way out, because of the tremendous downsides to shooting a firearm at another person.

        My pet theory is that the meanest thing I can do to an asshole is to fail to point out their assholery. If I did, they might (might) take the advice, change their behavior and cease being an asshole. If I don’t, they’ll find someone who is free of the responsibilities that I carry who will feel free to beat, stab or shoot into their numb skull the error of their ways, and the person administering the correction will probably have a lot less problem going (back) to jail than I will.

        My CHL is not a hunting license. It is a last-ditch opportunity to save my life or that of another. If it’s not worth my life or the life of another, then you’ll never see my handgun and you won’t see me at a confrontation for much longer, either. I don’t have to fight because I know how the fight ends. It ends with loud noises, profuse bleeding and lots of flashing lights, followed by hours at the police station accompanied by an attorney. I have a whole lot better things to do with my time compared to almost every conceivable outcome.

        I agree that DGUs are sometimes necessary, and while tragic for someone’s family, occasionally useful to society at large. I really, really don’t want to have to be involved in one.

  2. Personally, I would try to avoid a loss of life if possible. But do I think others should have a duty to retreat? No. They should be able to use their own judgement without fear of being thrown to the wolves by prosecutors and judges.

  3. That’s a tactical question that depends on a lot of variables. There are times when it may be advisable to retreat.

    Duty to retreat laws aren’t about that – they prevent prosecutors from Monday morning quarterbacking a citizen to death. And because of that, they deserve our full support.

    • @DJ: I agree with you…way too many variables to make an easy answer. Ideally, you would be able to simply avoid putting yourself in situations that might require drawing a weapon. Obviously, that is not always going to be possible.

      Carrying a weapon should give you a sense of security without making you overconfident to the point that you act differently when carrying that weapon versus not carrying that weapon.

    • Exactly. Duty to retreat assumes that a person under great stress is capable of having and acting upon perfect information. Which is damn near impossible under ideal circumstances.

    • Agree, DJ. The SYG laws don’t empower people to meet force with lethal force unless the long-standing conditions for lawful defense are complied with. No change there. The SYG concept reduces the likelihood of a trial hinging on nothing but extremely subjective impressions about whether one could have retreated “with complete safety.” It greatly lessens the possibility that lawful self-defense results, despite its legality, in the bankruptcy of the defender.

  4. Hell no.
    Not if I have the advantage and cant get to cover.
    But if there is a way out safely.
    I think Id take it, rather then take a scumbags life.
    Its a decision Ill make when and if the time comes.
    But force me to retreat……I don’t think so.

    • Bingo.

      I can’t think of a single situation where if I were in danger and could safely EXIT that danger without harming anyone, I wouldn’t do so. There’s a strong disincentive in our society against vigilante-ism: Even if you’re legally innocent, it’s still going to ruin your life. Look at what happened to Zimmerman.

      Furthermore, philosophically speaking, Duty To Retreat laws make no sense. The implication of such laws is that it is more important to prevent harm to a criminal than prevent harm to an innocent victim. In effect, it encourages crime.

      Stand Your Ground, on the other hand, makes the implicit statement that it is more important to prevent the victim from being harmed than the criminal. Discourages crime. Puts the law, shockingly, on the side of the LAW ABIDING.

      What a novel concept.

      • @Jandrews: I agree with your assessment of the Zimmerman verdict…legally, he was innocent. Morally and ethically…not so much.

        I do think that Zimmerman was empowered to ignore the police dispatcher when she told him that “we don’t need you to do that” in regards to following Trayvon Martin because he was carrying a gun. If Zimmerman didn’t have the gun, there was no way he would have got out of that car.

        Generally speaking, I don’t think someone should be able to argue self-defense if they knowingly insert themselves into a situation that may require drawing and firing a weapon if life or property is not being violated. I think that if Zimmerman had observed Martin in the act of committing a crime against a person or property, he would have been more justified in acting in the way he did. Martin may have been suspicious, but he really wasn’t in the act of committing a crime.

        • It’s often pretty murky even if the shooter witnesses a crime. Don’t forget the outrage a few years back when a Texas man shot the guys robbing the house next door. He was eventually cleared, but reviewing that case might be worthwhile right now given its parallels to current events.

        • OMG! Zimmerman got out of his car???? I did that twice today! Is someone going to beat my head into the concrete? OMG!!!!

        • Generally speaking, I don’t think someone should be able to argue self-defense if they knowingly insert themselves into a situation that may require drawing and firing a weapon if life or property is not being violated.

          Please correct me if I’m wrong, but did GZ physically assault St. Trayvon before he was attacked, or did TM walk away, then return and initiate physical violence?

          Because regardless of whether someone thinks it’s a good idea or not, AFAICT it’s not a crime to ask a black kid what he’s doing in the neighborhood, or anything else for that matter. At worst it could be considered harassment, and presumably TM could call the cops if he felt that GZ was a persistent harasser.

          It is not against the law to say things to black people, regardless of the offense that they might take.

        • Nah. Getting out of your car to see which way a guy ran is just being a good citizen, especially in a neighborhood with numerous burglaries and a home invasion.

        • So if Zimmerman was the aggressor, as you posit, then did Martin have a “duty to retreat?”

        • Explain again how he ignored a non police authority, and the timing of that statement in the incident, as compared to the 4 minutes he had lost sight of martin……

        • Once again I have to restate the facts. Zimmerman did not ignore the police dispatcher. He got out of his car before he called the non-emergency dispatcher. When she advised him that “he didn’t need to do that” he complied and began to return to his vehicle. In the meantime a drug impaired Martin was being whipped into a homophobic rage by his girlfriend Rachel Jeantel. The enraged Martin went on to violently assault Zimmerman while he was on his way back to his start point. There was only one crime committed that night. A hate inspired assault by Martin on Zimmerman.

          As an aside, I wonder if Jeantel told Angela Corey the same story that she gave to Piers Morgan on CNN. If Corey knew that Martin went to assault Zimmerman because he believed Zimmerman to be a gay and withheld that information from the Court and the defense then I believe she has passed into Mike Nifong territory.

  5. Whether you should retreat in a violent attack depends on the tactical situation. For example, if you’re facing a squad of soldiers and only have a pistol, you’d be an idiot not to retreat. As for the moral aspect, no of course there’s no moral mandate on the defender. The only moral mandate in play is for the attacker to not attack.

    Note that the whole “stand your ground” thing is a smokescreen–if you spend any time talking to liberals, you’ll quickly find that they believe that it’s absolutely wrong for anyone who’s not a government thug to ever defend themselves, under any circumstances. The way “Stand Your Ground” is being played up reminds me quite a bit of the way the rulers invented the term “assault weapon” to play on confusion and ignorance.

    • That first one is less of a retreat and more of a pray they can’t hit you through the poop cloud you leave behind.

    • California was an early implementor of a “make my day” law and has among the strongest castle doctrines, liberalism notwithstanding.

      Assault weapon is a very old term – think 1950s – and before the ban that’s how manufacturers and sellers marketed street-legal versions because it brought in hordes of testosterone-poisoned twenty-somethings. The name stuck. Deal with it.

  6. As Massad Ayoob said before CATO, if there was 100% chance of escaping safely both for you and those under your mantle of protection, then absolutely you should retreat. If there is less than 100% chance, then no.

    Stand Your Ground is NOT an excuse to “shoot scumbags”, it’s to avoid the insanely high legal and financial toll a justifiable homicde places on the accused.

    • Concur.

      As a practical matter, I think this can be approached from the 3 S’s rule, – “don’t go to stupid places, and do stupid things, with stupid people”.

      If this woman knew the man, from a previous encounter, as I think one can infer from the body language and the brothers comments, then one can infer she would presumably have known he had a temper- (stupid person),

      and so, then why would she to go to his brothers car wash (stupid place),

      and relatively calmly confront him with a rifle? ( do a stupid thing)

      I mean, really, how many urban black females just happen to be carrying a hunting rifle in the back of the car? She wasn’t dressed for hunting, or even going to the range- sorry to be so sexist/racist/whatever…

      So my gut take on this is she was just asking for trouble…
      and given how calmly she got the gun out,
      and took the picture after,

      I’d be willing to consider this a deliberate set up, rather than self-defense.

      In fact, if you watch how she got the gun out, and pointed at the ground, leaning into his personal space, one could almost consider that a threat, putting her in the aggressor category, which if you read para d in the excellent article by Eugene Volokh, in the link provided by Tom RKBA a few posts down, removes the self-defense option for a legal defense of what happens in a confrontation.

      Hey, the guy was an idiot too- love hath no fury like a woman scorned… and when the gun came out, he should have been backing out, not beating on her. He probably got what he deserved.

      Darwins Law rules.

      • That is a rather sophisticated thought process, with minor subtlety that pardon my opinion, doesnt seem logical in the particular person defending herself as a woman that smart and clever, would have arranged a different manipulation!

  7. Is there a moral duty to retreat in states where there’s no legal duty to retreat? No. The b@stard who’s trying to kill you had a moral duty not to attack you. As the defender, you have a moral right to use force to resist the attack.

    However, if retreat is both safe and practical, then it’s the wise thing to do. Safe in that it won’t increase your exposure. Practical in that there’s time to retreat.

    Why? Because you have two enemies. One is right in front of you. The other is behind a desk somewhere and is willing to build a “career” on your bones. It’s unlikely that someone will be wrongfully prosecuted for retreating. And if retreat doesn’t work, you’ll have the option to use deadly force if your life remains in danger.

    • There’s an old saying that discretion is the better part of valor. I’ve walked away from my share of confrontations, despite being in possession of tools that would give me the upper hand, because it had not yet escalated to the point where someone was going to get hurt because there was no exit available. I’ve also been in confrontations where there was no chance of a clean exit, and producing a gun brought an amazing calm to the previously agitated aggressors who decided to walk away.

      Given the unique fluidity of every confrontation, I don’t think we can get more specific than to say what Ralph just did:

      “if retreat is both safe and practical, then it’s the wise thing to do. Safe in that it won’t increase your exposure. Practical in that there’s time to retreat.”

      I will say, however, that there should never be a legal obligation to retreat.

  8. I personally would prefer a bug out over a shoot out if my odds of survival were at least as good running. However, that might be a pretty difficult calculation to make while under attack. I think they want to shift burden of proof to the person defending themselves, and thereby make people second guess themselves into inaction in the face of danger or (better still) decide it’s not worth carrying a weapon at all. So, I’m for blocking this push.

  9. So the POTUS thinks “assault me and it may just cost you your life” is a bad message to send? Amazing the commander ‘n chief can so blatantly support criminals.

    • That’s not what he’s doing. He’s fanning the flames of racial resentment. If he can keep the fire going, attention will be directed away from the past and current crimes of his utterly contemptible and criminal administration.

      Besides, pitting races against one another is part of the overall strategy. What is happening is controlling the narrative by making people see others as part of a race, and not as individuals.

      • This is it 100%. The more they keep people talking about this case, the more time and energy is wasted that could be spent digging into the half-dozen or so criminal scandals currently dogging this administration. This is just a run-out-the-clock ploy for them. Enough time passes, and everybody forgets the NSA is listening to everyone’s phone calls and the IRS is harassing conservative groups.

  10. Ps, wasn’t repling directly to you Jay in FLA, I posted via moble before seeing your reply. Just replying in general that SYG isn’t a reason to Dirty Harry bad guys, its a law to protect Americans from legal and financial burdens in direct result of justifiable homicide.

  11. I thought the question referred to this particular situation. If the woman had not paid for gas, she could reasonably believe getting in her car and driving away could lead to her arrest.

    That’s an unknown in that situation, as of now. I suppose she could have retreated into the station, but I’m unsure she had a duty to do so. Would the attack have continues inside? This DEFINITELY seems like an attack – swinging a knife at her face.

    As for taking a picture of the dead man and driving away – DEFINITELY WRONG, and it will place her in a bad light if she was charged. I don’t think that can be explained away.

    The now-dead moron had a duty to break off the assault, especially when he saw the rifle. Looks like a death-wish and an accommodation, to me.

    • Easily defensible from the videotape, except for the leaving the scene.

      “Officer that man accosted me and threatened me with a knife (deadly force). I responded with the only weapon available to me, my rifle. I asked him to leave repeatedly. When asked to leave, he struck me in the face/tried to slash my throat, which I took as attempted murder. I used my weapon until the attacker was not a threat. I took a cellphone picture of the knife in his hand to prove that he was armed and attacking me when I was forced to defend myself, because I was afraid the knife would be lost and the seriousness of the situation I was faced with would be misconstrued.”

      Leaving the scene is difficult to square. I think emotional instability at having to use deadly force to defend myself would be a reasonable thing to say. She went back into the store, if she said, “Call 911, I had to shoot that man that tried to kill me” then that may show something other than malice and get her off. My wife is 20 years older, not sure she would always 100% of the time be able to stand over the body of someone she was forced to shoot and wait for the police to arrive.

      Up to the grand jury now. If she has a prior record or is someone who shouldn’t have had a firearm to begin with, she may get charged for that, but the videotape looks to me like a defensible DGU. Leaving the scene is questionable, but I am not sure it is a crime.

  12. The basis for Stand Your Ground legislation varies from state to state; in my home state it was enacted in part to deter overzealous prosecutors from charging every possible situation as a felony without exercising prosecutorial discretion, along with correcting a prior state Supreme Court decision to the effect that no defendant was permitted to claim self-defense if any evidence whatsoever in the case indicated that either egress was possible or that the (deceased, former) aggressor had no intent to do great bodily harm. For example, a friend of the decedent testifies “Young Davie wouldn’t hurt a fly.” or words to that effect, no claim of self-defense could be considered by the jury.

    On top of which, I suspect, our legislators and insurance carriers were fed up with defending civil suits filed by families of the deceased or by the wounded but alive and kicking against some righteous citizen who was defending his or her life at the time.

    • Advice from an LEO acquaintance: “Make sure he’s inside the door, and the exit wounds are in the deceased’s back.”

  13. One of the main reasons that Florida passed the SYG law was that prior to passage, you had a legal duty to try and retreat from any situation before you could employ deadly force. Even if that meant running out of your own house or jumping out of a car. If you didn’t even try, then the prosecutors would eat you alive in court.

    I much prefer the law in place as it provides some protection against malicious prosecution and civil liability suits.

    • Prosecutors in one case expected an Orlando man to run a red light during a carjacking at a busy intersection rather than risky injury to the thugs. Never mind his safety and that of other motorists.

  14. The story says :
    “According to witnesses, the victim was acting strangely.
    “He had an expression like he was just mad at the world,” said Jon Thomas who was in the parking lot at the time of the gunfire.”

    Who was the victim here? It sounds like the author has his/her mind made up who was in the wrong. The video is strange, but too often these news stories are quick to call the wrong person the victim. Just because someone is leaving the scene at room temperature doesn’t always mean they were the victim.

  15. On a philosophical level a duty to retreat would mean that the victim must yield the space to his attacker. Duty to retreat cedes the public square to the thugs. From public policy point of view duty to retreat undermines civil society since the outlaw is given precedence over the law abiding citizen. From tactical point of view it puts the victim at a extreme disadvantage. He would not only have to absorb the first blow but any blow while an exit strategy is available. You could not meet force with force until you already sustained injury and had no way out. Duty to retreat places a lower value on the victim’s life than the thug’s life. The preference for the thug is Progressive policy because crime is their preferred method of social control.

    • I posted my reply before reading any other posts. Clearly we are on the same page. Duty to retreat laws are obscene.

    • I’ve said this before about duty to retreat laws, so I absolutely agree. Like I said above, as a practical, pragmatic consideration, I would look to avoid trouble first, but duty to retreat laws are immoral.

  16. Take the action that will best protect you and yours. Most often, that means retreat. The gun is for when the safety of retreat is uncertain.

  17. Ya know … I can understand the attitude that all life, even the most vile scumbag, is worth more than most property, like a soda or stapler or even a car, things which are replaceable in ways that human life isn’t.

    But any scumbag who threatens me over any property has just admitted that he values that property over my life. He doesn’t get to demand that I value his life over said property. He just doesn’t.

  18. Why anyone who is shown a rifle continue to move towards or strike someone holding one is insane OR believes they have a right not to have one pointed at them. Is it part of black culture to establish dominance over someone regardless of circumstance?

    • No I believe that has something to do with testicles and ovaries, has zero to do with hue.

      The completely ludicrous part is if she was stabbed the dude would be led everywhere with a jacket over his head and everyone would be howling for blood. Now, because he threatened a woman with a knife and then viciously punched her, but she didn’t graciously accept that treatment, he is the victim.

  19. I’d rather try to GTFO and not have to defend myself in a criminal trial then civil trial. But if its me or the bad guy, I will use all force at my disposal to end the threat.

  20. Distance = Time = Options.
    That said, If you retreat, how far? When is “far enough”?
    I think every situation is likely to be completely different when you interject two different or even one different character. What is being said? What is perceived?

  21. I inadvertently cut off my previous post, I’ll try again. No video can give the complete story but it looks like the lady had good reason to believe her life was in danger. What she did afterwards doesn’t look good but does it really change the circumstances she defended herself in? I can say from experience that what humans do after surviving a life or death situation is unpredictable.

    My duty is to protect myself and those I care about in the best way I am able to. Stand your ground is under attack by the same groups who want us all to be victims relying on the .govt to protect us at all times under all situations. The same sort that prosecute people for resisting a robbery in other countries like the UK for instance.

  22. Yes, I absolutely believe there is a duty to retreat. If someone is threatening you with a weapon (even fists, since they kill more than the rifles annually), the attacker absolutely have a duty to retreat back to the shadows they came from prior to you shooting them. Making unwanted verbal sexual advances is not just cause for shooting some IMO, but someone swinging at you with a knife or while holding a knife absolutely is a reason to question your safety.

    Looks like self defense, with absolutely bizarre events following the shooting. I can understand leaving the scene, although that seems like a terrible decision to make… but taking a picture prior to leaving makes no sense. Also, why the rifle? It’s not like this is some prison city like New York or Chicago… If you feel the need to carry a rifle in the trunk of your car there are better options…

  23. Forget “duty to retreat.” Let’s rephrase it a little. Should you be legally rewired to turn your back on our run backwards from someone who is trying to kill you? I think this phrasing makes things pretty clear.

  24. I’m not going to bring the Zimmerman case into this due to the questions surrounding it.

    In this case it appears a woman felt threatened, brought out a firearm and asked the offending party to retreat. His physical size and demeanor on the tape certainly would warrant this.

    He then struck her (with what appeared to be a great amount of force in the face).

    She shot him. This seems to be a textbook case of the “stand your ground” law being applied.

  25. I dont know about “duty” but As Massad Ayoob says, dead people do an awfully good impersonation of the victim. Between the (potential) legal fees and the mess, shooting someone will be the absolute last resort. And it will be the last resort because if i feel my family is imminent danger, i am not going to undertake a risk analysis.

    p.s. comments getting eaten. overactive spam filter?

  26. If they come at me,that means they have already thought through what they plan on doing,and I don’t know what that is,could be that if they try to rob me I don’t know if they are going to kill me,so yes I am going to protect myself.I am a ccw holder,used to be a Deputy Sheriff,if I didn’t think I could use a firearm to protect myself,I would not have worn a firearm for years while on the job!I am not advocating going out and dealing vigilantism but I do advocate self protection.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  27. If someone targets me and my family then it’s safe to bet that he’d do the same to another family. I’d be more torn up about the guy I let go killing someone else then I would be about taking out a predator.

    • ^ This.

      Laws that order us to retreat guarantee that violent criminals will continue to impart savage attacks on citizens. What about our moral obligation to fellow citizens?

  28. Being legally required to retreat is just one more unnecessary thing (that can get you killed) to consider during a high stress event.

  29. @Timbo:

    “OMG! Zimmerman got out of his car???? I did that twice today! Is someone going to beat my head into the concrete? OMG!!!!”

    I don’t know…are you some wannabe with an authority complex looking to provoke a fight with someone who isn’t committing a crime?

    • Following someone at a distance or asking someone a question is not illegal, does not provoke anything, and does not end a person’s right to defend themselves.

    • Actually, construction workers followed a couple of thieves they saw leaving a house in Zimmerman’s old neighborhood until police arrived who then arrested them. Otherwise, they would have left the area with the loot. Can it be risky? Yes. However, in the case of TM, he was the attacker and it was an classic self defense case. Had he survived, TM would have been arrested for felonious assault and battery and possibly attempted murder if the prosecutor decided to over charge.

      The SYG component of Florida 776.013 clearly states “who is attacked” and isn’t engaged in illegal activity. Of course neither part of 776.013 was used in this case.

      (3) is the SYG portion
      http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String&URL=0700-0799/0776/Sections/0776.013.html

        • The evidence is now in the public record. Go and read it. Also go and watch Rachel Jeantel’s interview on Piers Morgan. Put 2 + 2 together and then figure out what really happened.

  30. The argument I don’t see here is public vs private. (If someone
    has made this distinction I apologize.) If someone threatens me
    or someone else in a public forum, I may stand or back off as
    tactics dictate. If the same threat occurs in my residence or on
    my property, unless I’m seriously outgunned no way I’m
    backing down.

  31. Kind of moot here. He was at close quarters. He continued aggression even after she retrieved her gun. And according to the news reports it looks like he had a knife. I can’t see how she could have retreated safely.

    In general I believe if you can retreat without exposing yourself to additional risk you should and should be legally required to. There are obvious exceptions like your own home, of course.

    The whole idea of self defense as a legal defense is that the evil – killing someone without due process of Law – is so awful that only an “immediate and otherwise unavoidable danger of death or serious bodily injury” is grave enough to justify it. Feeling inconvenienced isn’t enough. Believing it will make your pee-pee shrink down to less than its full, rampant three inches if you don’t shoot someone is not a good enough reason. Neither is “I’m a Sovereign Citizen with a gun, so I’ll do what I damned well please”.

    The moment you pull any of these out of your sleeve you have to subject yourself to the same standard. Anyone else’s butthurt overrides your right to live. Don’t like that? Then don’t demand it for yourself.

    • A. Nuran,

      Stand your ground laws only apply when a violent criminal attacks a victim. In order for those laws to apply, the victim must reasonably believe that the attacker is going to immediately cause death or great bodily harm and the attacker must actually have the ability to cause death or great bodily harm. That means the attacker must have a weapon or the physical ability (strength) to deliver deadly blows.

      When a violent attacker starts their attack, retreat is often dangerous for the victim. So stand your ground is NOT about relieving a victim of an inconvenience. It is about ensuring the safety of the victim.

      • Uncommon_sense, you gave him much more consideration than he deserved. Male equipment reference = irrevocable loss of credibility in my opinion. It’s such a tired, elementary school recess level canard that I can’t picture the person as anything close to an adult.

  32. I feel we have no duty to retreat , but you must always use the best defense , if you were in your car as a sample and it was easy to get away by driving do so. If you could jump behind some cover easy do so. anything that makes you a harder target do it, but at the same time your only best defense may only be to STAND YOUR GROUND,, The government needs to stay out of this issue ,, The JURY is better at seeing the truth as in G. Z. case…

  33. You have a duty to protect yourself from unwarranted or surprise attack as well as your loved ones. How you achieve that goal is up to you.You choose your self defense methodology and weapontry.It can be a firearm where legal or pepper spray,taser,mace ,self defense lessons a knife where legal to carry.Stand your ground means where you have a legal right to be you have no duty to retreat.That being said you have to ask yourself is it SMART to be here or would I be better off somewhere else?

  34. @Dr. Kenneth Noisewater:

    “Please correct me if I’m wrong, but did GZ physically assault St. Trayvon before he was attacked, or did TM walk away, then return and initiate physical violence?

    Because regardless of whether someone thinks it’s a good idea or not, AFAICT it’s not a crime to ask a black kid what he’s doing in the neighborhood, or anything else for that matter. At worst it could be considered harassment, and presumably TM could call the cops if he felt that GZ was a persistent harasser.

    It is not against the law to say things to black people, regardless of the offense that they might take.”

    Right. But the simple fact remains that Martin was not in the act of committing a crime and Zimmerman was directed by the police dispatcher (admittedly not as forcefully as he should have been) to NOT follow Martin any longer.

    I think it is entirely probable that Martin felt as threatened by GZ as GZ felt of Martin. Of course, Martin being dead makes it really convenient for Zimmerman’s defense. And, considering that Zimmerman’s lawyers went to great lengths to depict Zimmerman as a poor fighter, I believe that Zimmerman would not have got out of his car if he didn’t have a gun. And if Zimmerman didn’t get out of the car, Martin would still be alive (or at least would have been killed by someone else).

    • Chris,

      Neither law enforcement officers nor 911 dispatchers have legal authority to tell a concerned citizen that they cannot follow someone at a distance. A concerned citizen can walk anywhere they want and keep an eye out for their neighbors. That’s called being a good neighbor. I hope that my neighbors are equally concerned about my neighborhood.

      Unless Zimmerman rushed Martin, Zimmerman did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG OR ILLEGAL. If Zimmerman followed Martin at a distance and kept his distance, Martin might have been suspicious about Zimmerman but IT IS NOT JUSTIFICATION FOR MARTIN TO ATTACK SOMEONE.

      If you are going to argue that Zimmerman had a duty to retreat, then you have to argue that Martin also had a duty to retreat. And there is no way in the world that Zimmerman could overtake Martin. The only sensible conclusions are that Martin either failed to retreat or Martin started the attack. Either way, Martin was the one at fault using your standard.

      • @uncommon sense: I hear what you are saying…I really do. I just don’t think that George Zimmerman exercised good judgment. Again…I would be a lot more sympathetic to Zimmerman’s actions if Martin was actually committing a crime when the confrontation occurred.

        • Chris, a person’s right to self-defense is not predicated on good judgement. What you’re doing is essentially victim-blaming, the only difference here is that Zimmerman was armed and unwilling to be a victim. Would you tell women who go out alone after dark they’d be wrong to defend themselves from attack? After all, it would seem to have been poor judgement on their part?

    • Yes because I can see how being asked a question is clearly as threatening as having your head bounced on concrete…

      • @Pyratemime: my response to that is Zimmerman should have realized that confronting Martin could lead to a physical altercation (which, according to the attorneys, Zimmerman was not prepared for).

        I mean, what authority did Zimmerman have to confront Martin? Didn’t Martin have justification to act to defend himself against a strange person following him?

        • That isn’t breaking the law. Head bouncing is. Frankly, if punks in hoodies weren’t so common, it wouldn’t have been an issue. Maybe the local thieves guild should be charged for 2nd Degree Murder since they created the situation.

        • @Chris: The authority GZ needed was provided by being legally in a place he had a right to be (ie the sidewalk).
          The only ‘confrontation’ that occurred (according to the evidence) was TM physically assaulting GZ. This is an important part of the MSM narrative, but it never happened, GZ did not by any stretch ‘confront’ TM.

          One cannot ‘defend one’s self’ against being followed. Not by any moral or legal definition of ‘defend’. One can assault another to stop pursuit, but that’s assault, not defense. . .they are opposites for a reason.

          Having refuted these three inaccuracies in your argument I took a moment to read a great many more. Are you simply throwing everything you can invent at the wall to see if anything sticks, or are you really struggling with the facts of the case that badly? The trial transcripts ought to be available soon. I suggest ordering a copy and reading them in detail instead of making repetitive and absurd accusations based on incomplete and/or inaccurate information.

    • I do wish we’d all get off the GZ vs TM thing.

      Unfortunately, we’ll never actually know.

      Just as possible as Zimmerman’s take would be Martin shouting “What’s it to you?” and taking a step toward Zimmerman — who was essentially a stalker — when asked what he was doing there, Zimmerman pulling aside his coat to reveal a weapon and Martin leaping upon someone who was therefor very threatening.

      I’m not saying that this IS what happened, but that it’s just as possible – and certainly not a thing to which Zimmerman would admit.

      Zimmerman had a history of calling 911 way too often, Martin committed no crime ere the kerfuffle – and maybe not even then – and Zimmerman got some lumps. The major issue is that no investigation occurred ’til the thing went viral and the “authorities” were forced to pretend to earn their pay.

      It was wrong, stupid, unnecessary and polarizing. Zimmerman shouldn’t stalk people who might worry that they’re in the vanguard of the next wave of Atlanta murders, and Martin should’ve high-tailed it. The MSM should be forced into retirement, and Southern law enforcement is a thing to avoid at all costs. Ja; you betcha.

      However, until Doc Brown gets his flux capacitor working or we find a way to turn personal memories (with all their bias) into video, we will not know.

      There’s nothing to see here, people. Move along.

        • That’s fair; however, I’m hoping it’ll be the essay to end all the fu¢king essays.

          Also, I used to be an EMT and RF is one; if you need help reattaching your arse, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      • Your supposition is incorrect. He was on the phone with his girlfriend who admitted on Piers Morgan that she whipped him up into a homophobic range. From the initial police investigaiton, the trial evidence and Ms. Jental’s story it is clear that Martin whent to attack Zimmerman. Martin got his justice, get over it.

  35. @Juliesa:

    “Nah. Getting out of your car to see which way a guy ran is just being a good citizen, especially in a neighborhood with numerous burglaries and a home invasion.”

    Even if the guy is not committing a crime and you have been told by a police dispatcher that “we don’t need you to do that”?

    • You’d think it’d be harder for you to try to re-write the story now that the facts are public via the trial. Apparently not. You should probably watch/read some of the trial info before opening your mouth again and continuing to remove all doubt.

        • @Chris: ALL of them. Really just nearly everything.
          In your last post above the relevant errors would be assuming that it somehow justifies assault to look at someone who isn’t committing a crime (hint, anyone can look at anyone else with the reasonable expectation they will not be beaten for it).
          See also: police dispatchers have NO authority whatsoever. Are you honestly arguing that we should all just do whatever anyone associated in anyway with a police force tells us to do, even when such instruction prevents us from exercising our basic rights such as walking on the sidewalk? The only alternative argument I can fathom is that you’re suggesting that when someone doesn’t like it when you walk around your neighborhood it’s ok for them to beat you. Neither of these is remotely tenable either legally or logically.

  36. No one has any moral obligation to retreat from an attacker. Laws that require citizen victims to retreat from a violent attacker deny those citizens their inalienable liberty — in this particular case a citizen’s right to be anywhere in public he/she wants to be. It doesn’t matter whether the citizens is moving or standing still. If they are legally in a public location, their right to be anywhere does not cease when a violent criminal starts an attack.

    Duty to retreat laws place the rights of violent criminal attackers above the rights of citizen victims. That is just plain wrong … which is what we expect from Progressives Communists.

  37. From the video it looks like he was the aggressor. He had an object, supposedly an umbrella, in his right hand and what we were told was a knife in his left. Even after she showed a rifle he took a lunge or swipe at her with his knife hand. Seems like a clean shoot to me. She was minding her own business and doing her business with the gas station when he made the first ham handed moves.

    As for her taking his picture with her cell phone. She may have wanted a good picture of his weapons in case they walked before the cops showed up.

      • JWM is onto something, she may well have been preserving evidence. As for leaving the scene, I gathered (unless I’m mistaken) that the mans brother was in the business next door. If so, leaving before it became a double DGU might have been a very good idea. I think a lot of the probative value of her actions after the shooting will depend on whether or not she reported the incident.

        As for SYG I’m not even sure she’ll need to apply it in this case. It appears that she was retreating to her vehicle when the man caught up to her. From the video it seems she could have put herself in further danger by attempting to get into the vehicle with her attacker so near. A foot retreat, especially if it caused her to leave the more populated public area of the gas station may also subject her to greater risk. I think even minus SYG the fact that her attacker was pursuing her from one business to another may well mean she’d already met the duty. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn either that there is much more to this than meets the eye and she pleads out or that she successfully defends under SD without ever invoking SYG.

  38. I dont know about “duty” but As Massad Ayoob says, dead people do an awfully good impersonation of a victim. Between the (potential) legal fees and the mess, shooting someone will have to be the absolute last resort.

  39. If I’m faced by ten modern Vikings (well armed, no compunction about killing, wear their wealth, respect only their own – you get the idea) and have the opportunity to jump down a manhole, I will.

    That said, under most circumstances, no fu¢king way. If I get away, the asswipe’ll just go after someone else – likely an unarmed someone else.

    Whether I kill the sh¡t or only put him out of commission (with a poorly aimed shot) I have done Society a favour and helped it toward that fabled peace, order and security.

    Being a civic-minded sort who picks up litter and returns shopping carts, I’ve no problem looking after the interests of JQP in this was as well.

    Obama lin Biden’s statement makes sense only were bad guys to invariably turn themselves in and get a brain makeover when a victim gets away.

    They don’t do that, and I’ll not behave as though they do.

    Sheesh!

  40. Sure, if you can.

    http://www.volokh.com/2012/03/24/lethal-self-defense-the-quantum-of-proof-the-duty-to-retreat-and-the-aggressor-exception/

    “I hope to say more about the duty to retreat in a separate post, but for now let me observe a few things. First, most American states rejected the duty to retreat even before the recent flurry of new “Stand Your Ground” laws. That’s what the LaFave & Scott 1986 treatise reports, and I have no reason to doubt it. Now that many states like Florida have, in recent years, have rejected the duty to retreat, the “no need to retreat” rule appears to be the supermajority rule in the United States, though there is still a substantial minority of the states that adopt a duty to retreat.”

  41. That video is damn strange. I don’t know what to make of it just yet.
    As far as the question, it seems like most folks here have a pretty good mindset- If retreat is viable option, take it. My first thoughts are going to be of getting off the X and to some level of cover, so if in doing so I see a nice path outta Dodge, I’ll gladly take it.
    It’s just too bad that reality eats strategy for breakfast.

  42. Capt Mal Reynolds said it best, “If someone trys to kill you you try to kill them right back.”

  43. The guy swung at her with the knife and she’s lucky he missed. She might have been able to turn and run, and he could have chased her down and stabbed her in the back. She did the right thing buy taking a step back and defending herself.

  44. I would like to see the POTUS issue and executive order to his security detail to run during an attack as well as the one for Shotgun Joe Biden.

  45. absolutely. if you don’t allow yourself to be beaten, stomped into the ground, and knocked unconscious, maybe killed, then you are engaging in vigilante justice, at least if you are a “progressive”.

  46. Ah, Houston, city of my youth.

    Video does not look good for this woman. I would not say that she was standing her ground so much as escalating the situation. We don’t know what the guy said to her, but looking at the body language as she gets the rifle out of the trunk and then moves toward the guy, making threatening gestures…if he weren’t dead, he could probably argue that he was acting in self-defense when he hit her. I’m guessing he wasn’t the sharpest (or most sober) knife in the drawer.

    I think the point of SYG is to stop prosecutors from arguing that you “could have” retreated, not to legitimize trash talking while brandishing a weapon and escalating a conflict. Nor was the Castle Doctrine intended to support going outside your house to shoot burglars breaking into a neighbor’s house, as in the Joe Horn fiasco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Horn_shooting_controversy which occurred not far from this one, as the crow flies. Joe Horn walked, which is not surprising given the Pasadena, TX cops and Harris County prosecutors. The fact that the guys he shot truly were career criminals rather than local kids didn’t hurt, either.

  47. I’d object to Laws requiring a “Duty to Retreat”. Retreat should be a tactical option, but the Defender must have the choice depending on the immediate situation and not be shackled with a duty to retreat first. If that were the case, it could distract the Defender’s clarity of mind as he/she desperately strives to “obey the law” while the immediate tactical situation turns against him/her and decreases the chance of a successful self-defense needlessly.

  48. Weird video. Amazing that he didn’t tackle her while she was too darned close and practicing good pointing discipline.

    Seems he was a multi-problem unit, who proved that the 21′ rule does exhibit the occasional exception.

    As to her actions, I’d say that they constitute simple pest control.

    • I hadn’t heard about that one.

      For many prosecutors, the only thing that matters is winning the Game, they could not care one whit less about right, wrong or justice.

      Someone needs to force the sh¡t-eating b¡tch of a persecutor to read up on Homer Stille Cummings, then to drink a quart of bleach.

      • Russ, a lot of people haven’t heard about this one. I read a lot of lefty media, so I’ve been hearing about it for a while. And TTAG as (barely) mentioned it. The focus (misplaced, IMO) on the GZ trial has brought it to light again, so maybe something will happen. Read about how the original trial went down. Pretty awful. Same prosecutor who oversaw the GZ case, FWIW. I want to see the outraged ruckus now.

        • That woman has been royally screwed by the same bloodsucking vulture who tried to screw Zimmerman.

        • Okay, Ralph. You’ve got some weight here. Time for the Armed Intelligentsia to get their collective knickers in a twist. Seriously, search for Marissa Alexander on TTAG. Not much. You yourself provided excellent ongoing analysis of the GZ trial. MA is a current (and doubtless short-lived) darling of left-leaning media, pointing out the hypocrisy of the “system.” Prove them wrong. Let’s get her out of prison and buy her a shiny new pistol.

        • You better look at the full story and not the media slant which is in her favor. She went and retrieved a gun and went back in. Plus, she hadn’t lived there for nearly 2 weeks. She messed up insisting on trying SYG when 776.013 clearly states it doesn’t cover this situation anyway. She turned down a plea option for 3 years. She attempted to try her case in the press. The judge and jury didn’t get the memo.

        • Unlike the GZ case, the one you’re pushing is so convoluted it’s no wonder someone ended up in prison over it. My last read of it indicated Marissa Alexander didn’t even live in the residence where the shots were fired (apologies all around if I’m misinformed). Add to that the fact that ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ had a relationship . . .then just dump a mess ‘o confusion all over it. I think any outrage over this case is buried in all that confusion.

        • I’ve read quite a lot about the case, though certainly not the full transcript, and I agree it’s not a good SYG case, and that it’s convoluted (I don’t buy that the GZ case wasn’t), but I also think it’s a good self-defense case, that 20 years is ridiculous, and that the judge railroaded her. Her position was that she couldn’t get out of the garage, and was forced to go for her gun. Also, plea deals are abused by prosecutors to avoid trials and keep stats up, so the system will always go out of it’s way to really punish those people who actually think they’re innocent.

      • Actually. This woman made a mistake by trying to use SYG. Here public defender should have not allowed her to. The husband lived in the house so she couldn’t legally use SYG, plus she went to the car and retrieved her gun and went back into the house and fired 2 shots through a wall.

        On top of that she turned down a plea for 3 years which would have netted her 1 in jail and 2 probation.

        • Whether or not his name was on the lease, rental agreement or deed, a restraining order means he should’ve been somewhere else.

        • #1 She wasn’t living there. He was there when she got there. #2 it isn’t clear that there was an order in effect. Plus, he had custody of the older children. She is the media darling on this.

          Either way SYG and 776.013 clearly states in it that it doesn’t apply in this situation. Plus, she was the aggressor in this.

  49. Bottom line:
    Even with a “stand your ground law”
    Even with a solid “self defense” case.
    Even with a “not guilty” verdict
    Even with a clown centric circus for a prosecution
    GZ still has the wolves at his door, and to heck with the facts.

    Nope we dont need ANYONE reviewing or weakening “stand your ground laws”, or most others for that matter

  50. I had to sacrifice valuable time from my limited life to acquire what I have. Time I’ll never recover, and would have to sacrifice again to possibly recover whatever stolen, that is if the intruder isn’t after my life. I don’t think I should have to try to turn the corner in the middle of the block, busting up windows or or kick through Sheetrock to escape cause someone invades/confronts. Obama would be far less hypocritical if he emphasized duty to retreat whenever the U.S. suffers an invasion/attack. As in one irate immigrant or explosive packing turban and he begs us all to move to Canada.

    That being said, there is nothing wrong with running if it will save your life.Nor is there anything wrong with trying to talk a bad situation out of becoming violent.
    The main issue, however, seems to be the legal system that wants to lynch victims while doing its damnedest to turn us all into professionals at being one (civilian disarmament).

    They not only have the balls to try to force us to disarm, but to also take a FDAU approach to every threat, else Uncle Sam promises to finish what the criminal started (such as take your property and or life). That IMO is highly immoral.

    I hope this comment doesn’t get deleted.

        • I was just taking a pot shot at the summers where I live – in Kansas, A.K.A. the Land o’ the Free.

          SUM – MER – S – U – C – K – S!

        • Eh, what matters is that we keep moving like the sheep we’re ‘sposed to be & the wolves ran the sheep pen. We keep migrating wherever they (the attackers) aren’t.

          That and make sure you can run a mile w/o getting winded in under 5 minutes.Also be sure to get and wear some Adidas “running shoes”, oops i mean high speed capacity, assault, moving footpads of ultimate death and despair. Take some Parkour/Free Running classes too.

  51. I personally would always try to get out of trouble before I got any deeper in trouble. That being said I think a legal obligation to retreat basically just gives criminals more room to work. What if I’m in my bedroom with an exit door to the outside and someone barges in from the inside hallway with a mask and a gun? Should I be required to run outside and leave him to his business? Oh, I forgot to add my kids both sleep in rooms down the hall behind him. I can’t imagine just turning tail and hoping for the best.

  52. Yeah..tell that to the army the next time they’re faced with a violent attack. Oh look..violent attack..lets retreat! Why should the armed forces be subjected to a different moral standards than the citizens that employ them?

      • Ralphs right, DTR/SYG don’t apply to the military, it’s a completely different thing and it serves nothing to make the argument. However a good comparison would be to ask Obama et al to retreat (with their SS details) when confronted/attacked. In fact, that would be an excellent barb to use.

  53. Why should we be forced to consider what would be “best” for our attackers? They certainly aren’t considering what is best for us and neither is Mr. Obama with these comments. Their side certainly is degrading, it used to be “think of the children, we need to do what’s best for them!” now it’s “think of the criminals, we need to do what’s best for them!”. At least the facade is being dropped.

  54. We need to be careful about what becomes law. At its root, a law says “I get to lock you in a cage for…”

    Is the following situation morally right?: You are minding your own business. You are surprised by an attacker. You are scared. Adrenaline has limited your fine motor skills and given you tunnel vision. You have two seconds to make a decision: 1. Shoot your attacker. 2. Take the escape route to your left that you don’t even know is there. A prosecutor has months to analyze what you have two seconds to think about. Even though you were minding your own business, were surprised, and now are in danger, I GET TO LOCK YOU IN A CAGE WHERE YOU WILL BE RAPED if you choose option 1.

    That is the nature of a law, and that is what “stand your ground” tries to prevent. I have a hard time accepting just how many people there are that believe stand your ground means “go ahead and murder a black guy on the sidewalk, no really, it’s cool.” I used to think “low information” voters were people like the Obamaphone lady. The Zimmerman trial has showed me that it includes a huge swath of middle class people with normal jobs.

    If I have the two seconds to think under attack, I sure hope I find an escape path–I’m more scared of career-building prosecutors and a low information jury than I am of a ground-pounding skittles thug.

  55. Moral duty? No, as long as you were minding your own business and doing everything morally right prior to the attack there is no moral duty to retreat in my mind. The law in many states (my own included) disagrees.

    Now, from a practical standpoint, if I can avoid a fight I will do it. For example, in the very old worn-out stereotypical “mass shooter in the mall food court”, if I’m on the opposite side of it from the shooter, and my wife is with me, we’re GTFO and I’m leaving those people to be targets. I don’t want to engage in risky business if I don’t have to (and let’s be brutally honest, any time bullets are flying both directions it IS a risky business, no matter how “good” you think you are).

  56. The goal should be to get to safety. Hopefully you can do that without shooting.
    Violence of any kind should be the last resort. Training can help you have options. A gun can be a good option under certain circumstances. Circumstances dictate your response. This is a moral response to the question, not a legal one.

  57. When people concede that GZ was legally correct but morally wrong, I think of an old quote by Cicero

    “If our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies then every method of protecting ourselves is morally right” — Cicero

  58. I’m sure I’m just adding to the same idea as everyone else. I have the right to return home safe and alive every night to my family. I have the responsibility to my family and myself to avoid confrontation, (not submitting to road rage, avoiding stupid people as best I can, and shitty parts of Florida which is most of it). I have a duty to the four other people in my home what need my help to come home safe. So no I have no duty to retreat.

  59. Stand your ground law is pretty black and white as far as I’m concerned. The media and politicians have turned it into a drunken vendetta.

  60. Thanks for all of the responses to my posts. This has been a very good thread for me in regards to learning more about the practical application of armed self-defense.

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