Stand Your Ground: Understanding the Law of Self Defense

Ever since the death of Trayvon Martin, and the subsequent not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has come under fire. Many are advocating for its repeal in the state of Florida. The general consensus among advocates of repeal is that the law’s application is racially biased; and, that it is essentially a license to kill.

As you can imagine, the debate has been drawn along political lines, and has forced many to take sides. The question, however, is whether we are properly informed. Personally, I believe the media has done a disservice when it comes to this debate. In my opinion, the law has been misrepresented.

stand-your-ground-law-of-self-defense (1)Newsflash: Stand Your Ground had nothing to do with the George Zimmerman trial; nor did it have anything to do with the Michael Dunn trial. Listening to media talking heads, certain civil rights leaders and attorneys you’d be hard pressed to believe differently. But, the truth is that many of them are agenda driven and as such, they cite the law incorrectly.

This from The Urban Institute:

We turned to the Supplemental Homicide Report (SHR) maintained by the FBI, which includes all reported homicides in the US, including justifiable homicides, to determine what types of cases—and how often—civilian use of deadly force was justified.


First, it is important to note that justifiable homicides are exceedingly rare. Between January 2005 and December 2009 there were more than 73,000 homicides in the United States but less than 2 percent (1,148) were found to be justifiable.


We combed the data to identify homicides which resemble the known facts from the Trayvon Martin case—cases in which there was a single victim and a single shooter (both of whom were civilians and strangers) and in which the victim was killed by a handgun.  We identified 4,650 of these cases in the SHR. Of these, just 10.9 percent (506) were ruled to be justifiable homicides.


However, we note that these numbers vary by whether a state is a SYG state. In SYG states, 13.6% of homicides under these circumstances are found to be justified. In non-SYG states, only 7.2 percent are justified.

A few things to consider thanks to FBI stats.:

  • Of 73,000 homicides in the U.S. between ’05 and ’09 less than 2% were justified.
  • Interracial homicides make up about 3% of all homicides.
  • Justifiable homicide are rare and Stand Your Ground hasn’t led to an increase.

On the eve of a major protest of Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law, we explored the legislation, and how it has been misinterpreted largely by the media. Joining us in this discussion was Andrew F. Branca, an attorney whose specialty is self-defense law. He is also the author of The Law of Self Defense. Hopefully listening to the audio above can be insightful.

This week’s episode of Madness & Reality Radio was compelling. Seriously, the information shared in the interview above was invaluable. So much so that it can be considered a life saver should you ever be forced to defend yourself as a victim of an attack or altercation. Do take the time to listen and a share the audio above, and click here to listen to the full episode.

Andrew F. Branca, Esq., is the foremost expert in U.S. self defense law across all 50 states, whose expertise has been used by the the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, NPR, numerous other media organizations, as well as many private, state and federal agencies. He is a Massachusetts lawyer, Life Member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and Adjunct Instructor on the Law of Self Defense at the SigSauer Academy in Epping, NH. He regularly lectures and speaks throughout the country on how to protect yourself against both an attack and the legal machine after.