Stand Your Ground Shouldn’t Mean Blast Away

W.J. Astore

The death penalty shouldn’t apply to turning in the wrong driveway or knocking on the wrong door

As a follow up to my previous article, “Shootings Are Us,” I read a piece today on NBC News about “Stand Your Ground” and “Castle Doctrine” laws. The idea is that people can defend themselves if accosted (“stand your ground”) and if their property is invaded (“castle doctrine”). In America, however, defense often takes a deadly form because people reach for guns rather than, say, a baseball bat, and bullets are quite unforgiving to flesh, and more difficult for most to aim and control than a bat.

Perhaps we all need “Star Trek” phasers set to stun, but, seriously, the problem is that guns are designed to kill. You really can’t modulate their murderous potential. So we have all sorts of Americans shot and killed or wounded for the most innocuous of actions, such as turning down the wrong driveway, knocking on the wrong door, or getting in the wrong car.

Such mistaken actions shouldn’t be subject to a potential death penalty at the trigger-happy hands of mostly untrained and seemingly strung out men.

Reasonable self-defense laws make sense to me, but the so-called castle doctrine is part of the problem. It encourages us to see our houses (and other property) as castles, as fortresses, as something we should defend using murderous force. But is defending one’s property truly a sufficient rationale to take someone’s life? 

If a man knocks me from my bike and steals it, am I truly justified in pulling my gun and shooting him dead? Sure, I’d be seriously pissed at losing my bike, but I’d get over it. I’m not sure I’d ever get over shooting the bike thief and putting him six feet under.

A home intruder? I get it. I’d call 911 and do my best to keep my family safe. If a gun were handy, I’d get it, but I wouldn’t start blasting away as a first resort. Firing a gun at someone truly should be the last resort. And when you fire, you should always have a good idea what you’re shooting at. Too many times, the “home intruder” turns out to be a family member visiting unexpectedly or returning late, or perhaps even someone who’s lost or confused.

Uncle Ben to Peter Parker (Spider-Man): With great power comes great responsibility

Here, the lesson from Peter Parker’s gentle Uncle Ben comes to mind: With great power comes great responsibility. Guns represent great power, meaning you must exercise great responsibility when employing them. Far too often, America seems to have too many trigger-happy people, eager to use their power but none too eager to consider their responsibility.

So they blast away, then claim they were standing their ground or defending their castle. And given the law in many states across America, it just may be enough of a defense to earn them verdicts of “not guilty,” even when they kill innocents.

3 thoughts on “Stand Your Ground Shouldn’t Mean Blast Away

  1. The Ideology and Propaganda “Castle America” is under threat by Russia and China wanting to physically invade and occupy the US, is preposterous to begin with.

    PROPAGANDA as Investigative Reporter John Pilger explains in this video interview is well worth watching as Nuclear WAR threats keep on popping up in the POWER conflicts of this World.

    Get REAL! We’re in the NUCLEAR MISSILE AGE.

    FEAR and IGNORANCE could set the process in irrevocable in motion. Invasion armies not needed!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks to WJA and to Ray for his comment and linked video. The legendary Pilger is indescribably essential. (One JP video-doc KH didn’t credit = 2002 or 3’s “Palestine Is Still The Issue.” Right: It Still Is in this 2023–even as there are too goddam many “issues” assaulting the world.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve seen commentary that attributes this phenomenon — shoot first, ask questions later (or never) — as a simple manifestation of anger. No doubt that emotion is in the mix, but I suspect it’s more often a combination of fear (stoked by media), rank stupidity, and thoughtlessness. In addition, the lack of humanity with which 21st-century people treat each other is beginning to rival the Medieval Era but with lethal power and force amplified and far more widely distributed. As often pointed out in these posts and comments, we learn nothing from our past.

    Liked by 3 people

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