“Stand Your Ground” Debate Hits Texas Legislature


Texas legislators are considering a bill to give citizens the right to use deadly force as a first resort when they feel their safety is threatened, says the Los Angeles Times. Most lawmakers say they support the idea. “You’ve got to assume a criminal’s not there to buy Girl Scout cookies; you could be harmed,” said Rep. Joe Driver. “You should be able to meet force with force without getting in trouble.” The measure – known as “stand your ground” by proponents and “shoot thy neighbor” by critics – is derived from the common-law theory that a man’s home is his castle and that he has a right to defend it with deadly force, without first retreating.

With the support of the National Rifle Associaiton, the concept is rapidly spreading: 15 states have adopted versions since 2005, with six more considering it this year. Gun-control advocates say such statutes are unnecessary because in self-defense cases, the law is already on the victim’s side. Backers say it is needed in states like Texas that require people who feel endangered when outside their home to retreat. Said Jerry Dowling, a criminal justice professor at Sam Houston State University: “I cannot imagine from a pure Texas cultural standpoint any grand jury here would indict someone because he or she failed to retreat when they blasted someone trying to harm them in some way. It’s legislation in search of a problem. I’m not sure of its utility.”


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