I recently interviewed Robert Spitzer, a professor at SUNY Cortland who has researched and written extensively about so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, which eliminate the duty to retreat when safe and feasible within self-defense doctrine. Numerous states have enacted these laws, and the laws have been central to many notable criminal cases involving shootings around the country.
Professor Spitzer argues that the evidence on Stand Your Ground laws tells us that:
- SYG laws hamper and limit law enforcement investigations into shootings
- The chief beneficiaries of SYG laws are "those with records of crime and violence"
- SYG claims were successful 67% of the time, but in 79% percent of cases, the shooter could have retreated to avoid the confrontation altogether, while in 68% the person killed was not even armed
- There has been an increase in "justifiable homicides" in states with Florida-style SYG laws
- There is NOT evidence the SYG laws reduce the number of crimes like burglary, robbery, and aggravated assault
Additionally, Spitzer argues that significant racial disparities exist with regard to the adjudication of SYG laws. He explains this disparity, and much more, in our interview:
What do you think? Do SYG laws serve any productive purpose in society today?