Last Saturday morning, Renisha McBride, a black woman, got into an accident in a very white neighborhood. At around 2:30am, she knocked on a man’s door to ask for help since her cell phone battery was dead. Upon receiving no answer, she turned to walk away at which point she was shot in the back of the head.
Absurd, grotesque, horrifying, infuriating and enraging, all of it.
Stand your ground, as it is commonly referred to in our lexicon, implies that the user of the phrase is invoking a situation where an initial aggressor doesn’t have a duty to de-escalate or walk away from the situation and, instead, is permitted to use deadly force.
It’s all hogwash. Stand your ground laws (which I do not like)1, empower citizens engaged in lawful activity outside of the home to repel deadly force with deadly force2. It does remove the duty to retreat in a public place, but only in certain circumstances.
Stand your ground laws do not apply to a person inside his own home. Almost every state in the country has no requirement that a person try and “retreat” inside his own home or to another location when attacked in that safe place.3
What the law doesn’t allow, of course, is a license to shoot and kill, without legal consequence, a person who happens to be knocking on your door or standing on your porch or even – in some circumstances – entering your home.
We call that murder4.
Your home is not an independent foreign country and every visitor an enemy incursion that you must repel with ballistic force. This is not Petoria.
Whatever this individual did will per force have to be viewed in a subjective and objective lens. What did he perceive and was that perception rational?
It seems to me, without knowing anything about anything5 that a man shot a woman for no reason. In most states, it is either murder or manslaughter.
What it most certainly is not, is a free pass under Stand Your Ground laws.
But don’t ask me, I’m just a lawyer.
- And see Texas, where you know, Texas. ↩
- I also don’t like guns, but I like logic more. ↩
- It does get more complicated after that, though, with deadly force being allowed to repel imminent deadly force in some states and not others, and defense of third persons and property and so on. ↩
- Or manslaughter, but, you know. ↩
- A disclaimer you will be hard-pressed to find in most media coverage about this case. ↩