Do Stand Your Ground Laws Mean Deadly Consequences for Teenagers?


Do “stand your ground” and “castle doctrine” laws that offer legal protection to people who hurt or kill someone in self-defense disproportionately harm teenagers? The Christian Science Monitor asks that question, noting that in the past week, three teenagers in states with such laws were shot to death for doing things that, critics of the laws say, teenagers regularly get caught doing.

In Florida, unarmed Jordan Davis, 17, was allegedly shot and killed by 40-something Michael Dunn after an argument about a loud car stereo outside a convenience store. In Minnesota, retired State Department employee Byron David Smith allegedly wounded and then killed two teenagers who broke into his house on Thanksgiving, apparently on a hunt for prescription drugs. This week also saw three teen boys charged with murder in Alabama after their friend was shot in April. The laws “are going to disproportionately result in more consequences to teenagers that are beyond the scope of what the kids were really doing,” says Kathleen Stilling, a Wisconsin lawyer and former judge. The worry, she adds, is that teenagers doing things “that are not capital offenses end up facing deadly consequences.”

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