The Mainstream Media Gets ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws Wrong — Again

Why is it so hard for reporters to understand basic legal concepts?

I’ll give the mainstream media this much: It’s absolutely consistent in its inability to understand or explain use-of-force law generally and “Stand-Your-Ground” laws in particular.

The most recent example comes out of Tulsa, Okla., where this past Monday a 23-year-old staying at his father’s home encountered three armed assailants who had forcibly entered by kicking in the back door.

Unfortunately for these home invaders, the 23-year-old possessed a loaded AR-15 rifle, and he knew how to use it. All three suspects ended up dead. A fourth, the getaway driver, would later turn herself into police. The shooter immediately called 911 to report the incident, a call which is remarkable in its own right. (Seriously, go listen to it.)

As seems inevitable in any media coverage of a self-defense shooting, news reports of the incident routinely made reference to “Stand-Your-Ground”:

“The homeowner’s son who shot them has not been arrested while police investigate whether he acted in self-defense under the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law.” — CBS News

“[Assistant District Attorney Jack ] Thorp told reporters that investigators will help his office determine whether Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” law applies in the case of the triple shooting.” — Fox News

“Killing of 3 teens during burglary may test Oklahoma ’stand your ground’ law” — Yahoo News

As also seems inevitable, these references to “Stand Your Ground” laws betrayed a shocking inability to understand what such laws actually mean.

The first thing to know about “Stand Your Ground” is that traditional self-defense law often imposed a legal duty to retreat before using defensive force if a safe avenue of retreat was available. “Stand Your Ground” serves to relieve a defender of that duty to retreat in cases where it would previously have existed — and that is all that “Stand Your Ground” does.

This means, of course, that in circumstances in which no legal duty to retreat exists, “Stand Your Ground” is entirely irrelevant, because no one needs to be relieved of a legal duty he never had in the first place.

If no safe avenue of retreat is available, then there is no legal duty to retreat, even in the absence of a “Stand Your Ground” law. If there exists a safe avenue of retreat for the defender, but that path of retreat is not safe for a person accompanying the defender (e.g. a small child or elderly parent), the defender is not required to leave the other behind, and thus there is no legal duty to retreat, again rendering any “Stand Your Ground” law irrelevant.

And then there is the universal exception to any legal duty to retreat: the so-called Castle Doctrine, which holds that even in cases when one would otherwise have a legal duty to retreat, that legal duty doesn’t apply if they are in their “castle” — meaning their home and sometimes their business or vehicle — and they are facing armed intruders who have forcibly entered. In such a home-invasion, there is no legal duty to retreat, so “Stand Your Ground” laws do not apply.

This last circumstance is precisely what that 23-year-old Oklahoman faced on Monday, and there is no state in the country where he would have had a legal duty to retreat, meaning his actions were not governed by “Stand Your Ground” law. Instead, he found himself in a very straightforward defense of dwelling scenario. Under Oklahoma law, as in many states, a home defender in this situation is also favored by the creation of certain legal presumptions that strengthen the legal defense for their use of force.

The relevant Oklahoma law is easily found in Oklahoma Statute §1289.25, “Physical or Deadly Force Against Intruder,” which creates two legal presumptions in defense of dwelling cases.



5-Year-Old Hoke County Girl Suspended From Kindergarten For Playing With ‘Stick Gun’

Excerpt From: Fox News Insider.

A North Carolina mother is outraged after her five-year-old daughter was suspended from school for playing with a stick that resembled a gun.

Brandy Miller told WTVD that she got a call from her daughter’s principal on Friday about an incident that occurred on the playground.

The principal said that Miller’s daughter Caitlin and two of her kindergarten classmates were playing a game when Caitlin picked up a stick and imitated shooting.

The principal said Caitlin posed a threat to other students when she made a shooting motion, thus violating policy 4331.

“Hoke County Schools will not tolerate assaults, threats or harassment from any student. Any student engaging in such behavior will be removed from the classroom or school environment for as long as is necessary to provide a safe and orderly environment for learning,” the school system says.


Judge Gorsuch to Feinstein: Heller is the Law of the Land

Excerpt From: Written By: Johannes Paulsen.

At his confirmation hearing today, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch declared that D.C. v. Heller was the law of the land and that he would apply and enforce that decision if confirmed.

“Whatever’s in Heller is the law,” he replied to questions about the Second Amendment from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) “And my job is to apply and enforce the law.”

Senator Feinstein, who has a rather restrictive view of enumerated rights such as freedom of the press and the right to keep and bear arms, tried to bait Judge Gorsuch into supporting her agenda. The Judge, however, didn’t play along.

The dialogue quoted below illustrates this, and is notable for two reasons–one amusing, one not.

SEN FEINSTEIN: In D.C. v. Heller, the majority opinion written by Justice Scalia recognized that — and I’m quoting — of course the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” Justice Scalia wrote, for example, laws restricting access to guns by the mentally ill or laws forbidding gun possession in schools were consistent with the limited nature of the Second Amendment.

Justice Scalia also wrote that weapons most useful in military service, M-16 rifles and the like, may be banned without infringing on the Second Amendment. Do you agree with that statement, that under the Second Amendment, weapons that are most useful in military service, M16 rifles and the like, may be banned?

JUDGE GORSUCH: Heller makes clear the standard we judges are supposed to apply. The question is whether it’s a gun in common use for self-defense, and that may be subject to reasonable regulation. That’s the test as I understand it. There’s lots of ongoing litigation about which weapons qualify on those standards.

Whatever’s in Heller is the law. And I follow the law.


JUDGE GORSUCH: It’s not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, respectfully, Senator, it’s a matter of it being the law. And my job is to apply and enforce the law.


Surprise! Senator Attacking Second Amendment Knows NOTHING About Guns

Excerpt From: The Daily Caller. Written By: David Hookstead.

Democratic New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand went out of her way Tuesday to prove she knows next to nothing about guns or silencers.

Gillibrand is currently trying to stop suppressors from being removed from the National Firearms Act (NFA), and fired off several tweets against the common sense move to protect the hearing of people who enjoy shooting.

The tweets were soaked with the ignorance of somebody who has spent more time watching spy movies than actually firing weapons.

Suppressed weapons aren’t like how they’re portrayed in movies. In fact, firing a suppressed weapon without hearing protection is still not a wise move.


Judge Rules “Assault Weapons” & “High Capacity” Magazines NOT Protected By 2nd Amendment

Excerpt From: The Fayetteville Tribune. Written By: Thomas L. Knapp.

“Put simply,” writes Judge Robert King of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, “we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.”

In Kolbe v. Hogan, the court upheld Maryland’s ban on “assault weapons,” also known as rifles that look scary to people who know nothing about guns.

As talk radio host Darryl W. Perry of Free Talk Live notes, King’s perversely broad statement would cover a ban on the possession of rocks:

“And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him …” — 1st Samuel, Chapter 17

King also displays a poor grasp of history. No judicial power is required to “extend” the Second Amendment to cover weapons of war, because they’re precisely what it was intended to cover in the first place.

The Second Amendment was ratified only a few years after a citizen army — many of its soldiers armed, at least at first, with weapons brought from home — defeated the most fearsome professional military machine in the history of the world, the army of a global empire.

The express purpose of the Second Amendment was to guarantee the continued maintenance of an armed populace. In fact, the Second Militia Act of 1792 legally required every adult able-bodied white American male to own and maintain “weapons of war” (a musket or rifle, bayonet, powder and bullets) just in case the militia had to be called out.


Bomb Squad Evacuates Entire Neighborhood Over Box of Ammunition

Excerpt From: News 4 San Antonio.

The San Antonio Police Department’s Bomb Squad was called to a Southwest Side neighborhood Saturday after dozens of rounds of ammunition were found underneath a home.

The ammunition was discovered on the 7900 block of Dempsey Drive, near Old Pearsall Road and Southwest Military Drive, around 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Capt. Troy Balcar of the San Antonio Fire Department said a family member found a sealed box with about 75 rounds of decades-old ammunition underneath the house. He said the rounds were about 40 years old, based on a date written on the box. Half a dozen nearby homes were evacuated for about three hours.

“This is definitely a big danger, because they’ve been under there so long,” Balcar said. “They’ve rusted, they’ve been exposed to the weather, elements outside so we definitely want to get them disposed of as quickly as possible.”

Family members said a veteran who served for more than 30 years lived at the house until he passed away recently.


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