If you’ve done any research into self-defense laws, you’ve no doubt come across the term ‘stand your ground.’
A stand your ground law is a general term referring to laws that allow individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves without first needing to retreat.
But there’s still a lot of confusion regarding the specifics of what a stand your ground law is and how it’s used, as the specific rules and language can vary significantly depending on the state.
You also might be wondering, in the event of a major disaster, such as a power grid down scenario or a natural disaster, will your ground laws continue to be in effect? Will you still have the right to defend yourself with lethal force if necessary?
With the above questions and considerations in mind, here are five things every prepper should know about stand your ground laws:
A Stand Your Ground Law Means There’s No Duty to Retreat In A Self-Defense Situation
A stand your ground law is also often referred to as a no duty to retreat law.
While the specific definition may vary by jurisdiction, in essence a stand your ground law means that individuals have a right to use deadly force against violent crimes as part of the right to self-defense without needing to first retreat.
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This stands in stark contrast to duty to retreat laws, which means that individuals cannot legally harm somebody threatening them if it is possible for them to retreat to a place of safety. Under stand your ground laws, there is no no duty to retreat before using lethal force to defend yourself.
The stand your ground laws have their origins in the common law principle of the ‘castle doctrine.’ The castle doctrine essentially states that each person’s home is their castle, and that they have the right to use deadly force to defend their ‘castle’ against invaders.
This basic principle has since been expanded and detailed by numerous state legislatures throughout the United States, from which the stand your ground laws we have today were developed.
However, some states have a requirement that the stand your ground law only applies if you are within your own home. These states are referred to as having ‘castle doctrine’ laws.
28 States Currently Have Stand Your Ground Laws In Place
Currently, twenty eight states have stand your ground laws in place, meaning that there is no duty to retreat regardless of your location within those states.
These states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Eight states have castle doctrine laws in place, meaning that you have no duty to retreat so long as you are in your own home (or ‘castle’). These states are California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Virginia, Washington.
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Fourteen states have the duty to retreat laws in place. These states are Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.
The only state that does not fall under any of these categories is Vermont, as it has neither stand your ground or duty to retreat laws. However, Vermont courts have ruled consistently that there is no duty to retreat so long as one is attacked in their own home.
What ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Means Still Varies By State
So twenty eight states currently have stand your ground laws in place, but the specifics and language of each state’s law varies. It’s your responsibility to research the laws in the state in which you live to know when you are legally allowed to use deadly force.
In general, stand your laws state that you must have reasonable belief in imminent death or injury before you can use lethal force to defend yourself. In some states, the burden is placed on the defendant in the courtroom to prove that their defensive action involving lethal force was reasonable. In other states, the burden of proof is shifted to the prosecution.
Again, thoroughly research the laws and regulations in your state.
Will Stand Your Ground Laws Continue To Apply In An SHTF Situation?
This is the big question: in the event of a major catastrophe or disaster, such as a natural disaster or a power grid down affecting a wide area of the country, will stand your ground laws continue to be in effect?
During a major disaster on this scale, people will panic and society could descend very quickly into mass rioting and looting.
There will be burglaries and home invasions of grocery stores, supermarkets, restaurants, and homes alike.
As a result, you will need to be prepared to defend yourself in such a scenario. But will you still be legally allowed to defend yourself?
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Here’s the short answer to the above question: so long as the rule of law is still in effect with a civilian government in control, then existing state laws will continue to apply, and any stand your ground laws that were in effect before the disaster would most likely continue to be so.
But what if martial law is declared?
If Martial Law Is Declared, Stand Your Ground Laws Will Likely Not Remain In Effect
When martial law is declared, the existing civilian market is displaced by military rule and the current rule of law is completely suspended. This means that existing self-defense laws on the books, including stand your ground laws, will most certainly be suspended.
Martial law is usually invoked during times of war or natural disasters, and may involve the confiscation of civilian-owned firearms and ammunition as well.
Stand your ground laws state that you have a right to use lethal force to defend yourself (if you have reasonable belief in imminent death or injury) and without having a duty to retreat first.
Twenty eight states currently have stand your ground laws in place, while a further eight states have castle doctrine laws in place where you have no duty to retreat so long as you are in your own home.
While it’s impossible to predict the future, stand your ground laws should continue to be in effect during a major disaster scenario, such as a natural disaster, an economic collapse, or a power grid down scenario. However, they most certainly will not remain legally in effect if martial law is declared and existing law is suspended.
Again, carefully read up on the self-defense laws that are in place in your state, so you know the specifics of when lethal force can reasonably be used for defense.
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