Are Castle Laws, Stand Your Ground Laws in Jeopardy?

There has been a tremendous amount of media attention and scrutiny focused on Sanford, FL recently. There’s no denying a tragedy occurred when a young man, 17 year old Trayvon Martin, was shot and killed because of what he was wearing. The police chief and others have recused themselves from this growing controversy by “temporarily” stepping down from their positions. Race has become a sticking point as have gun rights. It’s the comments made by President Obama, however, that have many concerned about the future of gun rights – specifically, the Castle Doctrine.

Each state (or at least, those who have them on their books) has its own description of these laws: the “Make My Day” law, “Stand Your Ground” law and here in Mississippi, it’s referred to as the “Castle” law. And believe me, I’m not the only one who’s concerned.

These laws allow justifiable homicide when a person feels his own life or property is in jeopardy. Not every state has these legal sections in their constitutions; however, in Mississippi, these laws have been on the books for as long as I can remember. Make no mistake: I vehemently support these laws and while I pray every night I’m never put in the position to do so, I can assure you I’m not afraid of stopping another from coming into my home. And I’m a pretty good shot.

While it’s not so much about the material things, I would absolutely take another’s life with no apologies if my son’s life or my life was being threatened. The material things, sure, they can be replaced. It’s the life we live that allow for those material things I’m more concerned about. The fact is, though, what little any of us have – TVs, cash, computers, cars, jewelry- we work hard for. I don’t think anyone would question that. The law, at least in my state, allows us to protect our “castles”.

Here’s where things are about to become very divided: President Obama, in his speech today, has identified on a very personal level with the family that’s grieving the death of their son. He said he felt if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon Martin. He then used to that to leap off with a request that every American do a bit of “soul searching” over how this could have happened. In other words, do states really need these laws on their books? (The accused shooter is saying his actions were justifiable due to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law).

This isn’t the first time this president has overstepped his bounds. He has crossed the line many times, but maybe it’s because this is the first time he’s asking lawmakers to rethink the laws that allow me to feel safe in my own home that I’m suddenly feeling quite defensive. He’s taking the Constitution, yet again, and dismissing it. A president have a very limited scope in terms of what his role is in that once-respected position. To call on Americans to “soul search” over these very core rights is just wrong. Compromising my sense of safety is not an option of his or anyone else.

Whether or not the man who shot this kid has a viable case is something I don’t know. If he took this boy’s life for any other reason, he deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. One thing about living in a free country is the responsibility that comes with it. If this man’s actions jeopardize the rights of you, me and every other American that supports gun rights, you can be sure there are millions who are going to have a problem with him.

This isn’t the platform the president or any other lawmaker should take in their goals of eradicating these laws. Then again, they’ve never been successful on any other platform, so maybe it’s an opportunity to do so at the expense of a family’s grief.


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