What Are Stand Your Ground Laws?

Amber Guyger, George Zimmerman, and Michael Dunn all gunned down unarmed black men — and they all cited Stand Your Ground laws in their legal defense. Here's what you need to know about the controversial laws.

Using deadly force

What do George Zimmerman, Michael Dunn & Amber Guyger have in common? They all “Stood Their Ground.” Stand Your Ground laws, such as Texas’ Castle Doctrine, say a person may use deadly force in the protection of a home, vehicle, and property if someone attempts to forcibly enter. Across the U.S., self-defense is generally legal when retreat is no longer possible. But Stand Your Ground laws are now legal in 26 states since 2005. In Florida, Michael Dunn’s lawyer Cited Stand Your Ground laws in his defense after Dunn shot at 4 teens amid an argument about the volume of music in their car.

He was eventually convicted of first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. George Zimmerman was also acquitted with a similar defense for his 2012 killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. In 2019, former cop Amber Guyger was convicted of the murder of her neighbor Botham Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own. The judge had ruled the Castle Doctrine was applicable to the case. Stand Your Ground laws have also been seen to cause an uptick in homicides — at least 30 people are killed per month nationwide as a result of these laws. Critics also say the law makes racial bias legal — white shooters of black victims are deemed 11x more justifiable than when the shooter is black, and victim is white based on data from the NPO Everytown.

It's important to understand that even states that have stand your ground laws still have certain restrictions when it comes to using force in self-defense. For example, they may require that the threat of perceived harm be objectively reasonable and that the force used be proportional to the threat. Stand your ground laws may also require that the person using self-defense be at the location lawfully (not trespassing, for example) and not be the initial aggressor in the altercation.


10/04/2019 1:58 PM
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  • Emmalie N.
    4 days

    In Ohio you have to retreat first. 😒 if you cannot retreat you can use force. But most cases you can always retreat. Because you know that’s how our justice system looks at it.

  • Dylan M.
    7 days

    It’s real simple....if you don’t want to be shot. Don’t break into people’s homes.....

  • Terence W.
    12/05/2019 10:16

    I will stand my ground. But if I am wrong, I should be prepared to stand trial. And to be fair, though they used it none of them met the requirements of stand your ground by most definitions.

  • James W.
    12/05/2019 05:00

    Stand your ground or be a coward. Your choice. Either way some will die.

  • James E.
    12/03/2019 14:45

    How many in Chicago?? Is that not news worthy??

  • Rodney H.
    12/02/2019 21:11

    So if break into a vehicle and police catch them just be nice and let them go that's what people is really trying to say. The hell with that

  • Aaron P.
    12/02/2019 15:03

    Stand your ground is a good thing the problem is these idiots shoot as a first option and not a last

  • Debbie L.
    12/02/2019 14:11

    If you break into my car, home or anything that is mine. I will shoot you. Thieves are scum.

  • Kara M.
    11/30/2019 07:48

    Yeah I’m all about caring about other people but do these people care about you when their breaking into your home or car. He’ll no. I stand by this 100.

  • Drake K.
    11/30/2019 06:20

    This video gave 3 examples of what they claimed to be 360 “homicides” per yr. just saying you touch the tile in my house your chest will be touched with a 12g slug. If you pull a weapon in public your chest will be touched with a 9mm hollow point no one cares of your color. This stand your ground law has been shaped to this vantage point by media. A few ago this argument was made after a woman claimed fla didn’t protect her stand your ground law because of color but dismissed the fact she left the house and went to her car nor did it mention the white male who got 25 yrs for firing a weapon in an altercation with his daughters boyfriend. There may be a disparity but challenging every officer with a phone or claiming that a child was murdered after waving a replica of a firearm and being shot as racist is bending a split second decision to fit a narrative. Statistics from the Washington post last year showed a significant difference in the amount of Caucasian people shot by police officers when compared to minorities but this statistic doesn’t fit the murdering cop narrative

  • Marielos D.
    11/29/2019 22:52

    Difference is this young innocent young man was eating ice cream in his livingroom this trigger happy thug with a badge was texting her boyfriend & wasn't paying attention the fact that this trigger happy thug got 10 years 8n prison is an insult & if it was the other way around we all know it would've have been life!!!! SMDH THIS MADNESS NEEDS TO STOP!!!!

  • Heather R.
    11/27/2019 15:42

    If someone attempted to enter my home, my vehicle or attempt to hard my child I will use whatever force necessary to protect myself and my child

  • Tim P.
    11/22/2019 12:24

    No, they did not all three cite stand your ground laws. This is such spin it is almost untrue. Talk about being factually inaccurate, this is the poster child of bad journalism.

  • Amanda E.
    11/21/2019 16:14

    Funny that if he had defended himself in his own home and killed her instead, they would have made him out to be a black hardened criminal against the police without a second glance. You kill anyone in their own home for no reason and you are a murderer and that’s it. Case closed. Stupid, stupid woman.

  • Christina G.
    11/16/2019 14:59

    How do u mistake ur own aptment. Lady be real. Im sorry some cops think just bc they got that title they can kill who ever they want and walk away. I believe half the time they premeditated it

  • Natal F.
    11/16/2019 12:04

    The problem is here that people aren’t using it to defend their home. In these cases they were people abusing this specific law, I think it’s the lawyers idiocy because they are thinking they can win these cases using this law to excuse their actions. I’m really glad the judges saw these as incorrect actions taken.

  • Melody W.
    11/16/2019 00:02

    If that person cared about their own life they wouldn’t walk up in my house 🤷🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ sorry not sorry

  • Jeremy K.
    11/14/2019 22:09

    I cant believe he forgave her. Wtf?

  • Jeremy K.
    11/14/2019 22:00

    Cowards shouldn't have guns

  • George G.
    11/13/2019 19:07

    Stand your ground allows you to defend yourself from Violent Felons. But lets do away with them to protect Criminals.