Abstract

In 2005, Florida became the first state to pass the heavily National Rifle Association, NRA, supported “Stand Your Ground” law. The most notable components of the law were abolishing the duty to retreat for someone who is not engaged in lawful activity and is in a place where he has the right to be, granting civil and criminal immunity to those using lawful force, and presuming that a person who is attacked in his dwelling, residence, and occupied vehicle has a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm. The law was subject to a substantial amount of criticism because it was a significant departure from Florida’s more than a century old common law principles regarding self-defense. Possibly due to Florida not having any precedents for these cases, Florida courts would have conflicting decisions in these matters and law enforcement agencies would enforce the law differently in similar incidents. Regardless of the issues faced by Florida, over twenty states would adopt their own versions. A significant number of these states are in the Southeastern region of the United States and are neighbors to Florida or border Florida’s neighbors, such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana. Because of this interesting pattern, the study examines the idea of southern culture playing a role in the passage of “Stand Your Ground” via the “Culture of Honor” theory and the researcher decided to use these jurisdictions and Florida as this study’s sample. The researcher also wanted to include these jurisdictions because the existing “Stand Your Ground” literature mainly focuses on Florida and the researcher wanted to add something new to the discussion. The intent of this study to examine Florida’s influence on the other jurisdictions, note any commonalties between the statutes of the jurisdictions, compare justifiable homicide statistics for the jurisdictions that provided such data, predict the future of these laws, and explore the “Culture of Honor” Theory as a possible explanation for “Stand Your Ground” laws in the states discussed. The study accomplished these goals by examining how each jurisdiction handled self-defense before “Stand Your Ground,” looking at the motives behind the jurisdictions adopting “Stand Your Ground,” comparing justifiable homicides in the four jurisdictions that provided them in the years immediate preceding the passage of “Stand Your Ground” to the subsequent years, and looking at amendments and proposals that were presented after the passage of “Stand Your Ground.” The results uncovered that all the jurisdictions, except for Georgia and Tennessee, show a very strong Florida influence based on their similarities to Florida’s law and legislators in the jurisdictions clearly mentioning Florida as their inspiration for proposing their own versions. In the jurisdictions that provided justifiable homicides, all showed an increase in the number of justifiable homicides after the passage of “Stand Your Ground.” The jurisdictions in this study have also shown a strong resistance to any amendments or the complete repeal of this law. Therefore, any drastic amendment or the complete repeal seems unlikely in the future. The “Culture of Honor” Theory does explain why a few of the jurisdictions in the study adopted “Stand Your Ground” but Florida and the NRA’s influence explain why others chose this course of action.

Notes

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Thesis Completion

2013

Semester

Fall

Advisor

Beckman, James

Degree

Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

College

College of Health and Public Affairs

Department

Legal Studies

Degree Program

Legal Studies

Subjects

Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic

Format

PDF

Identifier

CFH0004507

Language

English

Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

Included in

Legal Studies Commons

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