Guns and Gear

Stand Your Ground laws and the dignity of human life

AWR Hawkins, Ph.D. Conservative Writer
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Lately, with Trayvon Martin’s death serving as a focal point for anti-gunners, Stand Your Ground laws have come under attack from every corner. Gun-grabbers of all stripes have voiced their outrage over the people’s right to bear the arms they keep, and to actually use those arms to defend their own lives. And while what happened that fateful night between Martin and George Zimmerman is being examined in a court of law — as it should be — the justification for Stand Your Ground laws will not stand or fall with the judge’s decision: rather, the justification for such laws is the same as the justification for the Second Amendment itself.

As I pointed out in another article for The Daily Caller, the denial of my right to bear arms is a denial of my humanity. In truth, it reduces me to the level of a dog that has to endure being kicked again and again, and whose only option upon being kicked is to try to outrun my attacker (or attackers). Denying me my right to bear arms communicates a simple, sad message — my life isn’t worth defending.

It also gives every advantage to the criminal, who quickly learns that he can attack his victims with impunity, for they lack the means to fight back. After all, what’s ultimately to keep a strong man from robbing weaker men, if not the pause he has to give himself in wondering if they too might be armed? Take away the option that the weaker men might be armed and everything they own is the criminal’s bounty for the taking, including their very lives.

This is why even some of the bluest of states, like California, have Stand Your Ground laws. California’s Criminal Code 3470 is quite clear: “[The defendant] is entitled to stand his or her ground and defend himself or herself, and, if reasonably necessary, to pursue an assailant until the danger of death or great bodily injury has passed. This is so even if safety could have been achieved by retreating.”

Whereas a disarmed public is a criminal’s paradise, and one in which crime victims are left no option but to flee in fear and trepidation, an armed public with the right to use those arms turns the tables on the criminal: forcing him to flee and face a bit of trepidation for a change. In this way, Stand Your Ground laws uphold the dignity of innocent life by allowing crime victims to fight back instead of seeking an avenue for retreat.

Perhaps the late Jeff Cooper, founder of the American Pistol Institute, put it best when he said: “An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing it.” In other words, fleeing an attacker doesn’t send a message about the value of human life or the merits of right and wrong, instead, it simply emboldens him to attack again without compunction. However, throw a Smith & Wesson .38 special into the mix, and when the person under attack fires it, both the attacker and the watching world are reminded of the value of innocent life and of the merits of right and wrong — of good over evil.

For the record, it should be noted that Republicans aren’t the only ones who recognize the need for Stand Your Ground laws. The list of past and present Democratic governors who have supported, or at least refused to veto, Stand Your Ground laws includes: Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana, Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, Brian Schweitzer of Montana, John Lynch of New Hampshire, Brad Henry of Oklahoma, Phil Bredesen of Tennessee and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. (Also, included in that list is our current secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano. She signed a Stand Your Ground bill into law as governor of Arizona in 2006.)

Stand Your Ground laws are not a license to kill. Rather, they are an expression of our God-given right to defend our own lives, even when that defense involves the use the lethal force against another.

AWR Hawkins is a conservative columnist who has written extensively on political issues for, Pajamas Media,, and Andrew Breitbart’s,,, and He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. military history from Texas Tech University, and was a visiting fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in the summer of 2010. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.