Why We Need Stand Your Ground Laws
In Connecticut, if you’re attacked by three people and then stab one of them, you might become a felon and serve 18 months in jail. That was the lesson recently taught by the justice system to Jeffrey Sumpter, 21, of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He was working at a Dunkin’ Donuts when multiple assailants came inside and started beating him. He then chased and stabbed one of the attackers, who was transported to the hospital with “serious” injuries.
The judge said he believed Sumpter’s version of events – but had no choice in the matter due to the way Connecticut laws are written. Connecticut, you see, has no “Stand Your Ground” law. Victims of an attack outside the home, therefore, have a duty to retreat before attempting to defend themselves.
Stand Your Ground laws are often referred to as “dangerous and unnecessary” by those who oppose gun rights in all forms. Take, for example, this statement from the House Judiciary Committee: we don’t need stand your ground laws because we have prosecutorial discretion.
In this case, no gun was involved, but Connecticut’s lack of a Stand Your Ground law is sending a man to jail and making him a felon.
Even when a conviction does not result, prosecutors have shown amazingly poor “discretion” when they do not like the way a citizen defends himself or herself. Consider the case of Gary Fadden, who used a full auto Ruger AC556 to defend himself against a member of a biker gang who pursued him for over 20 miles into a parking lot. He was charged with first-degree murder but eventually acquitted at trial after charges had been reduced to second-degree murder. Despite this legal victory, and his employer H&K helping out with legal bills, it took him eight years to pay off the remainder of the fees. He never should have seen the inside of a courtroom.
It is in fact the threat of improper prosecutorial discretion, more examples of which are not difficult to find, which led the push for Stand Your Ground laws now on the books in dozens of states. I’d be willing to bet that if you polled those most opposed to pro-gun laws regarding whether or not they trusted the American criminal justice system, they would point to significant flaws, some even relating to prosecutorial discretion. Sadly, their opposition to the rights of citizens to own firearms for self-defense blinds them in this particular area. Simply put, they prefer that citizens not be able to defend themselves.
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