Under the laws of most states, if I use deadly force to
defend myself or another from a felonious act, my actions can be
considered justified. Sounds, to me, like a pretty reasonable
On the other hand, if I use deadly force
against someone who is not, at the time, engaged in some felonious act
against me or another I can be charged with a criminal offense, tried in
a court of law, and, if found guilty, I can be punished. Now,
there's another system that sounds reasonable, to me.
As most of us are aware, in 2007, the State of Texas passed what is
commonly referred to as the Castle Doctrine. One of the
effects of that legislation was that it removed the obligation to
retreat before using deadly force, as long as you were in a place where
you had a legal right to be, etc...
Doctrine put the legal burden where it belongs, on the felon.
Whether it's called the Castle Doctrine, or Stand Your Ground,
the concept of being able to defend yourself, without first taking the
time to consider retreat, is under attack.
suspects are salivating over legislation to make law abiding citizens be
kinder and gentler to criminals.
Also, on May 29,
2012, Cheng & Hoekstra, of Texas A&M University, released a
report on their study,
"Does Strengthening Self-Defense Law Deter Crime or Escalate Violence?
(Evidence from Castle Doctrine)."
One of the
conclusions reached by Cheng & Hoekstra, in their 35 page report, was:
"We find no evidence that the castle doctrine
With all due respect to the Aggies on my mailing
list, my response is, "So what?"
The conclusion of
Cheng & Hoekstra reminds me of a quote that I've always been
particularly fond of:
"I'm not entirely convinced that capital
punishment acts as an effective deterrent to violent crime.
I do, however, believe that it is an excellent way to make bad people
My point, here, is that if I find myself in a life
threatening situation, my overriding concern is for defending my life.
Of little or no concern, in such a situation, would be whether or not my
defensive action was predicated on a method that might have a general
deterring effect on crime. When you are up to your butt in
alligators, it's hard to be too concerned over your job of draining the
But, how, then, do we deal with Stand Your
Ground problems, like in the cases of Raul Rodriguez in Houston, TX, or
George Zimmerman in Sanford, FL?
The courts do. We get out of the way and let the system
Where does that leave the idea of retreat?
The idea of retreat is alive and well, right where it's always been.
It's just another option.
Not that many years ago, a
Texas DPS instructor, friend told me that defending yourself is all
about 'options'. The more options you have, the higher will be the
likelihood of a successful defense. That statement not only made
good sense to me, but it has also had a profound effect on my view of
the Castle Doctrine:
The Castle Doctrine removed only the obligation to
It did not remove the 'option' to retreat.
A reasonable person will consider every option at his disposal, prior to
the use of deadly force. Retreat is just one of the options that a
reasonable person will consider.
If retreat is what it
will take to keep you alive, RETREAT.
because of the law, but because it will help you Stay Alive.
Remember too, the law is not what makes a person