Stand Your Ground Laws & Bills by State

This post accompanies a previous post about the murder of Trayvon Martin.

The lists below refer to states that have expanded Castle Doctrine. In other words, most states have a “no duty to retreat” clause for an intruder in the home (which is also due to a massive effort by the NRA, starting in 2005). The “Stand Your Ground” bills and laws below refer to legislation or laws that expand no duty to retreat to places outside the home, sometimes to workplace or vehicles, but often to “any place a person has a right to be,” which means anywhere that a person is not trespassing.

Note: These laws have changed so fast in the last year, and there are so many conflicting sources of information, that it’s been difficult to keep track. I researched each state, and this is my best guess at interpreting the laws. If you have corrections or updates (including links to laws or bills where I was not able to find them), please leave a respectful comment, and I will follow up.

States that Already Have Stand Your Ground Laws (31)

States that have Stand Your Ground BILLS in Legislature Right NOW Are in BOLD; Others Listed Are Expected to Have Legislation Introduced (8)

States Without Stand Your Ground Laws or Bills — though states with * still uphold the doctrine by court precedent (10)

  • Arkansas
  • California* (no legislated law, but has been upheld by the courts, making it a de facto law)
  • Colorado* (no legislated law, but has been upheld by the courts, making it a de facto law)
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Minnesota (was recently passed in both houses but vetoed by Governor Dayton)
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico (Bill was introduced in 2011 but not passed)
  • Vermont
  • Washington* (no legislated law, but has been upheld by the courts, making it a de facto law)

This page is a reference for the post No More Trayvon Martins: Oppose Stand Your Ground Laws.

13 Responses to Stand Your Ground Laws & Bills by State

  1. Pingback: No More Trayvon Martins: Oppose “Stand Your Ground” Laws | #Occupy at Home

  2. Patrick says:

    do you know how many states recognize the true man doctrine? and if so could you provide me the source of your information, thanks so much.

    • Hi Patrick.
      I’m not sure I understand your question. I haven’t heard of “the true man doctrine.”
      If you’re asking how I decided which states have SYG laws and which states don’t, I ended up going to the the self-defense laws in each state and reading them. If there was “no duty to flee” and this protection was extended beyond the home, for example, if there was no duty to flee in workplace and car and/or “anywhere you have a right to be,” I classified it as a SYG law. Laws do not always fit neatly into categories, so some could argue with the distinctions I made. It’s a lot muddier since the NRA had Castle Doctrine law passed in virtually every state in the last few years. Before that, there were a lot more states that had lethal force as a last resort unless you were essentially fighting for your life (or the life of someone else) in your home. Now you can kill someone even if there are other equally effective options, and in the case of Castle Doctrine, in some cases the person just needs to be trespassing; they don’t even need to be threatening grievous bodily harm.

  3. Joe says:

    Patrick,

    To the best of my knowledge there is no such law on a modern day revised code, as a, “True-Man” law.

    First off – the very connotation is rather discriminatory…
    second – most states will shy away from “fighting words” type laws these days (although you do still see it in the Uniform Code of Military Justice – Provoking Speeches and Gestures).

    However, the more conservative approach to rulings in states such as Colorado indicate that there is still some remnants of the law of the land that was the, “True-Man” law. It’s said that California was enforcing the concept of SYG nearly 100 years before FL passed the law officially under this concept. The True-Man law basically said that there could be no such thing as a duty to retreat; that a true man would stay and fight…

    The duty to retreat appears to have been one of the laws that settlers brought with them from Europe and as our nation spread westward we became more and more attached to our guns and the our basic right to use them to defend ourselves… Hence why there was never a, “Wild-East…”

    I hope that helped,

    Joe

  4. natalie g. says:

    the biggest reason i think this “stand your ground” issue should be brought up and passed is i have loved ones who happen to be convicted felons and if ” god forbid ” one of them ever have to defend themselves, they won’t be sent to prison for the rest of their lives for protecting a loved one, what ever the “deadly” weapon should be. just my food for thought. please share and raise awairness on the “stand your ground” law and what you can do to help pass this law in new mexico

    • Hi Natalie.
      Thanks for your comment. I get that you have loved ones who you think might be viewed with prejudice by the legal system. I disagree that passing Stand Your Ground laws will serve them, however. There are already self-defense laws in every state that support the right of all citizens to protect the lives of a loved one.
      You referred to New Mexico law so I looked it up. In fact, NM already has Stand Your Ground laws, on the books since 1908, so adding to them really is overkill. You can find them here: http://www.collinsattorneys.com/docs/jury_instruction_self_defense_assailed_person_need_not_retreat_.pdf and here: http://www.collinsattorneys.com/docs/jury_instruction_self_defense_assailed_person_need_not_retreat_.pdf
      These are, in effect, as is the case with other SYG laws, protecting property rights. That is, the value of property is placed above the value of human life. I find this sad and troubling.

      • B says:

        Sharon, you are actually wrong. NM’s laws do not prioritize property over human life. The law states that if someone is entering or is occupying your property and you feel threatened, then you can protect yourself. However, if they are leaving your property – no matter if they are walking off with your TV or something – you aren’t allowed to do anything to them – because NM thinks that human life is more valuable tha property! NM is a very rural state and police aren’t just around the corner here, so don’t try to push your irrelevant personal views on a state that has a way of life that you clearly can’t understand. Do you want the option to protect yourself if you feel threatened? Or would you rather sit there and be killed waiting for an officer to drive 10 miles from the nearest police station, like in my case?

        Also, New Mexico has the most extensive social benefits programs of any state in the country, so do not try to make the state sound like an uncompassionate Wild West warzone. If you don’t have health insurance, or you are low income – or even if you are rich – you can go to UNM hospital and get treated for anything and you will either not be charged if you have zero money, or you will be charged payments according to your income. They can not turn people away. Tell me where else you can go and have this? But NM values property more than human life. You might find more success only talking about what you know to be factual.

      • Hi. I actually live in a rural area, too, in a town with a population of 800 people, and with regional police (meaning that if you call 911 you don’t know which town is taking the call, and they could be 1/2 hour’s drive away). But I still believe the number of guns in my area and the high level of fear in the US makes me much more unsafe than the time it takes for the police to get to my house.

  5. Kent says:

    It is reassuring to know that Pennsylvania (my home state) and Washington (my adopted home state) have this law. Thank you for compiling this resource rich page for the law biding citizens!

  6. Pingback: Zimmerman Trial - Page 889 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  7. Doogey says:

    I think you left out Maryland?

    • Yes, you’re right! Thank you for pointing out. It will take me some time to research this because I need to read the state laws on self-defense. Meanwhile here is the wiki (which are not always accurate): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryland_self-defense

      • Doogey says:

        Thank you for posting this by the way. It’s the most thorough list I’ve seen in one place. The only thing I wish you had done differently is not put the asterisked states in the same group as those that don’t have SYG at all because I keep reading in other posts that those states don’t count as SYG since the law wasn’t legislated….

        California as I understand it not only allows for SYG, but also reasonably pursuing.

        Thanks again. Nice post.

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