The Times West Virginian

March 24, 2013

Readers believe in standing their ground

Times West Virginian

— What happens when someone threatens you or your property?

Well, you stand your ground, right?

So is the unofficial name of state law that allows a person to use physical force to protect themselves and their property from someone who wants to hurts, damage or take it — the Stand Your Ground law. As it stands now, state residents are allowed to use physical force to keep home intruders or attackers at bay.

But a group of 11 House of Delegate members want to expand the definition of “ground,” it seems. A bill proposed earlier this month would allow residents to also use force to defend another person being attacked or even to defend a piece of moveable property.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a car. I guess if someone is trying to steal your car, the law would allow you to use force to protect it. And as far as defending another person, that just kind of makes sense to me in a way. After all, if someone I loved was being attacked, you wouldn’t be able to hold me back from the assailant. In fact, I’d probably come to the defense of a casual acquaintance who was being attacked. But there’s one more change lawmakers are suggesting — to remove the language from the law as it is now that requires self-defense to be proportionate and allows a person to use deadly force against someone they believe to be committing a robbery.

So, if someone comes at you with fists now, you can fight back with your fists. If someone comes at you with a knife, you can defend yourself with a blade as well. But if the law changes, you can use a gun to stave off a knife attack, if the jury agrees it was self defense. And that’s pretty much what laws like this end up being — a legal arguing point for defense attorneys and something for judges and juries to determine.

But since it’s getting a little chatter, we thought we’d see what our readers had to say on the issue.

Last week on our online poll question, which is found at each week, we asked our readers “A bill proposed in the House of Delegates would expand the state’s “stand your ground” law for citizens to protect themselves, others and their property. What are your thoughts?”

And here are your answers:

• Do we really need to give people permission to use “deadly force” to protect their property? — 2.59 percent

• If it passes, we might as well change our name to The Wild West Virginia — 8.62 percent

• People should be able to defend themselves by whatever force necessary from attackers and thieves — 88.79 percent

Sounds pretty loud and clear to us. Our readers believe in standing their ground.

This week, let’s talk about some recent and serious findings about energy drinks and health risks. Do you think they ought to be regulated?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor