Overheard on CNN.com: When is your home your castle? Should you stand your ground?
Daniel Adkins Jr. was shot outside a Taco Bell in Laveen, Arizona, after getting into a confrontation with a man in an SUV.
April 30th, 2012
08:29 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: When is your home your castle? Should you stand your ground?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

We've been talking about "Stand Your Ground" laws for a few weeks now in light of the Trayvon Martin case. CNN profiled four cases where such regulations and situations have been factors. In earlier discussion, readers talked about the laws themselves. Comments have started drifting toward the mechanics of self defense and deterring attackers.

Unstable ground: The fine line between self-defense and murder

This was the most-liked comment, referring to the first case in which Daniel Adkins Jr. was shot and killed outside a drive-thru at a Taco Bell in Laveen, Arizona, after a confrontation with a man in an SUV.

Travis Jones: "What the hell? The Daniel Adkins case seems worse than the Martin case. A mentally challenged man who never even touched a guy who was inside a vehicle gets shot and killed and the shooter remains free? Something is very wrong in this country when you can kill someone who literally has not even touched you because you feared he might. That's nuts."

Adkins was 29 but had the mental capacity of a 13-year-old. The shooter said he acted in self-defense. He has not been charged.

Many commenters wrote in about why they defend themselves with firearms.

iraradnick: "I was in the military, and never had to take the life of another human. I am not trigger happy, and I never want to have to use my handgun in self defense. I would like nothing more than to not have to conceal my handgun while carrying it. I would far prefer to have it revealed while I carry, to help dissuade anyone thinking of screwing with me to think twice. As for folks coming over to visit, I have no problem with that if it is someone I know. If you are a stranger you better have a good reason for coming over, and if you have evil in your heart you better be prepared to lay it on the line as I will not put my life at risk in consideration of your desire to do me harm. As an aside, I am not a scared citizen. I have nothing to be afraid of as I am well protected. In fact, how about this, you and your cowering fellow pansies ought to have a sign attached to your person saying that in the event of a life threatening incident you do not want the likes of me to help defend you. I would be more than happy to oblige, and would gladly post a sign on my home advising all who approach that I am armed."

Many people said they own guns, but still urge caution.

Donna Warnick: "I agree! And I'm a gun carrier myself. I believe in protecting myself and the people I love, but not things like a TV or other items that do not breathe. I believe in retreating, if at all possible and calling 911. I do understand that sometimes police cannot get there in time to help. But please think hard before pulling that trigger, for your life will change 100% after you do so."

Some commenters wrote in to say they didn't believe the Adkins case was self defense.

pokethekat: "A guy air swings towards you and in you're in your vehicle and you shoot him? Clearly this is murder. By the way, where is the 'weapon'? Total BS! If you're only feet away from someone, you can easily tell if a person has a bat or a pipe, this killer made up the fact that Daniel had a weapon. That's obvious. The fact that no weapon was found shows that the killer was lying. The police are incredibly incompetent. And the killer's father stays behind his door saying he has a gun while a reporter just wants to talk? Can you say crazy? What an awesome gene pool this family is."

One reader suggested shooting not to kill.

Jessy: "So much for shoot to disable or shoot to disarm. It seems that gun owners are forgetting that the chest or belly are not the only body parts available to shoot at. Shooting the leg will at least disable the person long enough for both cops and paramedics to arrive."

But is there a lack of incentive to try not to avoid harm?

Dudus57: "I have to disagree. Say he would have run over the dog, leaving the man 'unharmed' and taken off. Or he hits the dog and stops, either way. The end result goes one of two ways, he gets arrested for running over the dog, or the man flips out then he shots him. Based on my limited knowledge of the law, he made the call that wouldn't get him arrested or sued. Although horrific, agreed, in this kind of sued happy, over politically-correct, under enforced country, I'd follow the law to the T. Dead men can't sue or testify. Sucks, and I in no way condone shooting people, but it took me longer to write this then the entire incident, I've thought this through, do you think the shooter had time to do this? Or did he act on instinct, which isn't always pretty, and leave the situation unharmed, with his pregnant girlfriend, and not get arrested. It sucks, but I have to disagree with your assumption of him fully considering the situation in 2 seconds."

funkbarton: "While I agree with your assent of sue-happy people, the likelihood that the story might very well have been 'Jerk runs over mentally challenged man's dog' ... either of those is a better outcome than having a law that not just allows but encourages people to kill other people when they have other less deadly alternatives. These shoot-first laws (aka stand your ground) are bad for society. We need to encourage people to remove themselves from situations like this and the Martin case. Sure, other things might happen but in these two case we have two dead people that should be alive right now. And soon, if not already, a third party is going to be shot when a person is 'protecting' themselves and then what? This happened at fast food restaurant. The shooter was a good shot, but since we have no requirement that people get any gun education how long is it going to be before someone 'misses' but still can't be prosecuted since they were allowed to kill under the law?"

Some blamed the state  of Arizona.

bluesharp: "This has to stop. A mentally retarded man, supposedly carrying a metal pipe no one can find, is gunned down in a simple, 'Hey watch where you're going' confrontation? Arizona is turning into a dangerous place. The shooter must be charged and tried. If he is innocent, let the courts decide. This is ridiculous, we can't just all start killing each other over petty and made up offences. This isn't American, our gun rights were never meant to make this kind of thing okay."

This reader was afraid that quick action would cause a loss of freedom.

clemmiejean: "The right to bear arms will be lost because of yahoos like the guy in AZ. If someone waves their fists or a pipe at you and you are in a car, feeling in danger ... drive away."

Then again, this reader said drawing a gun worked out well for him.

Vladamir Untruksur: "I too carry both on me and in both vehicles in special compartments. I have had to draw one time in 12 years, and that ended well for me and the other guy ended up in jail. The police said if I had not drawn I would have been dead. Guess CNN won't be calling me for an interview huh?"

A discussion took place about whether people should be arrested after killing someone, presumably in self defense.

teamosil: "If you kill a person, the police need to arrest you and the DA needs to prosecute you. Period. If the jury decides that you meet the standard for self defense, by all means, you should be released, but this business where police are just taking people's words for it and letting them walk scott free after killing a person is not acceptable."

Derrique Stuckey: "INNOCENT, until proven guilty. Welcome to America."

mroooo: "We have over 200 years of precedent for our system. These laws are new and are not passing the civil test. If somebody is killed there is always an investigation. Self defense claims by the suspect are hearsay by precedent. It has to be investigated, and this one is being investigated further."

For some readers, feelings vary about the cases.

toosense: "I disagree with the guy in a car killing someone. He could have driven away. The dog was in the way? So is he saying he can't kill a dog to ensure his own safety, but he can kill a human? Oh, there's a dog in front of my car, I guess I'll just shoot the guy instead. Wrong. He had other options.

I also disagree with the sister of the man who entered the old couple's RV. He may have been seeking help, she's speculating, but even the police said he was acting erratically earlier with no sign of injury. If the police couldn't figure it out, what is an elderly couple in a small space supposed to do in the middle of the night with an erratic man in there refusing to leave? I don't believe they shot because they knew the law would be on their side. I believe they shot because they wanted to live to see another day & didn't want to endure what this man may have had in store for them. People don't come into your home at night because they hurt their heads & need help, they come into your home in the middle of the night to hurt you. You can't blame them for thinking that & trying to not be hurt, raped, tortured, killed or all of the above. The sister shouldn't be mad at this couple, she should be mad at the police who actually were with him and released him instead of getting him medical attention if that was what he needed. That's what THEY are trained for, not the old people asleep in an RV."

saint999: "Reasonable. The castle doctrine covers the elderly couple. They were not consulted on the Stand Your Ground Law. Looking at a lot of cases will tell the story. We're just starting."

What's your take on the cases presented in the story? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Pete

    Your home is most certainly your castle,but this STAND YOUR GROUND LAW goes well beyond that.I was informed by a local police department that protecting yourself is legal if only an intruder crosses the theshold or enters the front door of your home, which is considered a Breaking and Entering offense, which can then be protected by said owner using a legal weapon.This law goes well around that saying if you looked at me wrong,like you have a gun and I" think" you're going to use it ,I can use force with a legal weapon to protect myself,inflecting bodily harm on you, the oppressor.I hope the STAND YOUR GROUND LAW is not really kept legal because my exs would have killed me a long time ago,LOL!!

    April 30, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      If someone wields a weapon, that is the same as using it, and you can legally use of step up in force to protect your self. The law does not say you may first be shot or stabbed to act. If they pull a weapon it is the same as upsetting a weapon, at least here in Colorado.

      April 30, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mickey1313

    Your home, owned or rented is always your cattle, and you should always stand your ground. If someone breaks into my apartment, and I'm their, they gonna die.

    April 30, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    Your home is always your castle. It's your refuge, your haven and your sanctuary. And you have a right to defend it.Always.

    April 30, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I agree, raven.

      April 30, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hamsta

    zimmerman wasnt at home.it might have been self defense but definitely warrants a murder trial.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The Bedroom

    Do not let God determine what you do in your own home. Stand your ground.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Stand up for what you believe in, but do not tell me what to stand up and believe in, Bedroom.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. nsaidi

    Hi all, it's Nicole, the writer of the post. Thanks for all your comments! I got some questions for you, because a lot of the commenters were talking about how they defend themselves. What do you think about the Stand Your Ground laws? What are your thoughts on dealing with potential trouble you may encounter in the world? Do you retreat or stand your ground?

    April 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Ma'am:

      I stand my ground. This does not mean that I instigate, nor involve myself in disputes that are not my own. Natural law dictates that I have the right to Life, Liberty and Property. No one, even the government, can deprive me of those rights without Due Process in front of a Jury of Peers. When anyone attempts to relieve me of those rights anywhere, I have an inherent right to self-defense. I use those tools available to me which remove the threat with the least amount of injury to myself and those around me. To me, that's a pistol: there's a higher chance of lasting injury to life and limb from hand-to-hand or knives or anything else than a firearm. Little hole, a bit of bleeding is far easier to fix than concussions or brain injury, or sub-dermal bleeding (which might not be noticed and fixed).

      May 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Buck Henry

    They're my oats, I'll sow 'em wherever I damn well please. Mind your own freaking business, whomever you are.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ummmm

    Nope, I'm gonna lay down and die.... Of course I;m gonna defend myself.
    Better question is, who doesn't have the *natural* instinct to defend themselves against harm in any form.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    @Ummmm. Children, especially ones yet to be born. Other than that, cowards.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    ...it takes at least some bravery to own-up to the fact that it takes two to make a baby, and that raising that child is more brave than cowardly. Some are of the mind that it only takes one, and that it only takes one to decide. Some are stupid.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      This has nothing to do with the SYG law, and everything to do with your personal beliefs, which are now law.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Correction: NOT law. This forum has no edit feature.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  11. raven

    I think that depends on the nature of the trouble. Not every negative encounter merits a negative reaction. However, if one is being threatened with bodily harm, one has the right to defend himself. Wherever he may be.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Agree again.
      People seem too quick to whip out a gun, if they have one, and start letting the bullets fly.
      I have seen this in everyday stressor situations; road rage, if you will.
      There has to be some kind of happy medium.
      Where does it end?
      For this man at the Taco Bell, it ended with his death.
      Something, once again, doesn't pass the smell test...
      Stand Your Ground needs a few modifications if it doesn't want to turn into a catch-all for murdering anyone for any manufatured reason...
      There is NO WAY that this guy shot this man because his dog wouldn't move out of the way...

      I fear that people will use this as a knee-jerk reaction to solve any conflict that they may have, from road rage, as I mentioned, to just someone giving someone else a dirty look.

      Stand Your Ground, in concept, is a good idea...but there has to be a point where self-defense actually means defending yourself, and not killing somebody and then backpedalling into justification.
      There also needs to be a more thorough investigation into these situations; if there was no weapon found, then obviously something is amiss with the story...c'mon, now!

      April 30, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      I agree, raven and banasy. If it is used right, it can be rightly used.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    @nsaidi. Hey you! 🙂 Well, one thing for sure, 'Stand Your Ground' doesn't include shooting someone in the back for trying to steal your TV. Though in the minds of a select few, it does.
    Me? I feel it is the obligation of the strong to defend the weak, for the man to defend not only his weaker wife and kids, but his weaker neighbors as well. Like, if a Muslim nation invaded this Christian nation of ours, it would be obligatory for American men to become terrorists against the invaders. Each man would be oblidged to protect his family, friends, and property from the invaders who would change our way of life to suit theirs.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    Ummmm, yes, that is sickening. Even more sickening than the stupid nomenclature people use to describe themselves when it comes to the issue of abortion. If one is pro-life, would that not make the other pro-death? One being pro-choice would be calling the other 'no choice' by definition. In reality, it is the pro-lifers telling the pro-deathers that life trumps death every time, all bothersome details aside.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      When did this become about bortion?

      May 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    Wondering if faithful Muslims living in Afghanistan believe in our 'Stand your ground' or 'Make my day' laws. By all accounts, they do.

    April 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. G. Zeus™

    There is a movement towards feudalism and away from democracy. This law is one of the steps put into play.

    April 30, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
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