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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Filed under: Crime • Justice • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. Philip

    When is your [Nigerias; a top-ten oil exporting nation] home your castle? Should you [poor, hungry Nigerian citizens] stand your ground?
    No. Not unless you want to be called 'terrorists'.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    Hay. It's Philip@Nicole, wondering if she knows David Williams. And asking her to thank him for saving our condolences regarding leeintulsa parting and emailing them to his family. It's not often one sees this sort of personal touch, care, and concern.
    If you see Mr. Williams, tell him thanx for us. K?

    May 1, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Why do you not reply to his e-mail, thanking him yourself?

      May 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      And why don't you ask her directly, via e-mail? Curiouser and curiouser.

      Of course, this has nothing to do with the posted topic. It was just mentioned twice in the same thread, so I thought I would point out a more direct way of communication.

      May 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    @Aarron. Really? You would believe a well-kown suspected criminal and take-him at his word? On video? Really?

    May 1, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      If you mean over your, word, yes.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    ...if we take suspected terrorists on their word, in video format, why GITMO waterboarding?

    May 1, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. larryb

    it is sad because america is getting less civil and way less civilized. no other country on earth would have laws this dumb and we have people foaming at the mouth to defend it

    May 1, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • James Matamoore

      The current Zimmerman case has nothing to do with self defense or stand your ground. Zimmerman PROVOKED the confrontation...he should be arrested and tried. If any one neeeded to be armed and defend himself it was Mr Martin.
      As far as stand your ground laws.. very reasonable and justifiable...Every one can defend themselves against home invaders and assorted criminals if confronted by such.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ResponsibleGuns

    Why are so many people pointing the finger at the VICTIMS, instead of the criminals who instigate? Blame the man that walked into an RV that wasn't his, uninvited. Blame the person who started swinging at a young couple (when the wife was pregnant none the less). Blame the man who stole the radios. You should be perfectly in your right to shoot any one of those mentioned. The easy answer for a way for those people to still be alive is very simple: Do not cross people you don't know. Do not try to start a fight outside of Taco Bell. Do not steal other people's property. My radio may not be worth a life to you, but the life of a thief is worth LESS than my $5 radio.
    It is time that citizens are armed. Make a criminal know that stealing a $5 radio may cost him his life. Make a trouble-maker looking for a fight know that if he wants to resort to physical violence, it may be the last time he throws a punch. If ANY of these people were simply minding their own business and not inciting a confrontation with the gun owners, they would all be alive.
    The fault is their own. I have the right to protect myself and my property. I will use deadly force to do so ESPECIALLY if you are on my property.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • justthefacts

      Hey "ResponsibleGuns" – I really think you should name yourself "irresponsibleidiot"

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

      @Justthefacts – typically people who have nothing intelligent to add to a debate, quickly turn to name-calling. I'm not saying you are that person...i'm stating "justthefacts". If you have something against something I have said, point it out, and bring your position to the table. Calling me an idiot for having an opinion that differs from your own is just stupid.

      May 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Glenn

      The problem with shoot first, ask questions later is that you may not like the answers you get. Maybe the guy entering your home was there asking for help. Maybe the guy knocking on your front door is just a reporter. Maybe the guy was just drunk and doing something dumb but harmless(I've been there).

      May 1, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    @ResponsibleGuns. What are you talking about? My 11:24 post was all about the thugs hitting the RV. Do you read, or just post? 🙂 (and what are your thoughts on 80% of illegal weapons in Mexico having "made in USA" inscribed on them, with most of the rest "made in Israel". And, do you think it's possible that Jewish businessmen smuggle illegal weapons (and diamonds, etc) through the dozens of tunnels running beneath Israel's border with Mubarek. And is it possible Mubarek got his cut. ty for your consideration. 🙂

    May 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ResponsibleGuns

      @Philip – my post was not in response to anything you said. As to your question – I don't care where the illegal guns were made. The ciminals are the ones that steal them, or transport them and sell them. Arrest those people and throw them in jail for the rest of their lives? I also did not see a single source for your claim (80% of illegal guns have "Made in USA". If you are going to debate and bring a statistic in, you had better cite your source, or else don't even bother mentioning it. This is the internet, and the only thing statistics say around here is that chances are, you made that number up.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      What are you talking about? ResponsibleGuns is talking about the Stand Yor Ground Law. The posted subject of the tread, not yours.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Who would call their president a liar and then take a well-known suspected terrorts on his video word? Most *munchins* touting the 'ding dong the witch is dead' theory of justice/practice of manslaughter, that's who.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • ResponsibleGuns

      @Philip: I'm not sure what context you are referring to – but being the President of anything doesn't make you immune from lying about everything.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      I have noted that throughout this thread that there seems to be this problem with his lying.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Or you.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Andrew

    One thing to consider:

    If someone comes in my home and threatens to kill me, harm me, or any members of my family then I should have every right to use the same force to protect myself and my family.

    You come into my house with a gun, you should know I'm going to use a gun to protect myself.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. James Matamoore

    In response to the CNN question posed "When is your home (or car) your castle ?" The answer is ALWAYS !

    May 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Yes, I agree, James Matamoore.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    Gee ResponsibleGuns...you sound just like a lot of people in Afghanistan and Nigeria. Freaking trsspassers anyway, eh?

    May 1, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    The context of Nigeria being one of the world's top-ten oil exporting nations, and as Nigerians starve, their oil goes to nations struggling with obesity. Would you 'stand your ground' if you happened to have been born in Nigeria, for example. Would you yourself be labeled a "terrorists" if a Muslim nation were to invade and occupy the USA if you were to make, say, homemade bombs? Is your goose good for your gander, in other words. 🙂

    May 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    The source for the 80% statistic is our own FBI. But what do they know? And according to your post, the 2,000 guns the FBI exported to Mexico (fast and furious debacle) should be seeing some FBI personnel in jail soon. Do we also toss into prison ho running secret service agents for feloniously defrauding US TAXPAYERS? They were on OUR time clock ya know. Are ho's as deadly as guns? Even responsible ones.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • ResponsibleGuns

      Philip, you have an obvious chip on your shoulder about a lot of things. And when asked to cite your source, you simply point to a website. Show me an actual link that directly backs up the claims you are making or continue debating yourself with your 2nd-grade tactics.
      So unlike you, I will directly answer your questions – Yes, send the secret service guy to jail...the same goes for the guy who "lost" the guns that made their way to mexico.

      May 1, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      He said nothing about that. He said he doesn't care where they came from. Why this habit of reading more into a post instead of what is actually publishe? Strange habit.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sternberg

    The "Stand your ground" laws are not the problem. That has been common law, the world over, since the dawn of civilization, and only recently has anyone questioned the correctness of allowing a person to defend their person, family or property.
    That doesn't mean that a trial lawyer of today will not attempt to use that as a defense for a crime that may have been committed with no relevance to those laws.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      This is very true, which is why the law needs some clarification for lucidity.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dude

    Right now, people have to choose – do I get injured or killed by an attacker or bankrupted by a lawyer. That's why Stand Your Ground laws were implemented. Why should you have to pay $50,000 for a vigorous criminal defense because you were unlucky enough to get attacked by a hoodlum.

    May 1, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ResponsibleGuns

      Completely agree @Dude. You also shouldn't have to wait until after you are shot to be allowed to shoot someone. Again, if the person who is the threat never did their actions, their life would never be in danger. Criminals should be AFRAID to committ crimes.

      May 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • AM

      ResponsibleGuns: I don't think many disagree with you that if in your "castle" and in imminent danger you don't have a right to use deadly force to defend yourself and your family. Where I think the failure in the system occurs, is when the threat no longer exists...do I have a right to pursue a burgler and kill him for breaking into my home when I am no longer in danger, or does that responsibility for punishment now fall on the police? Do I have a right to "stalk" someone, then when they come at me, kill them for them defending themselves? My personal opinion to both of those is no...just as a Cop cannot use deadly force the iminent threat is gone, neither should the general public be permitted to pursue and kill as seems to be happening. Our first responsibility should be to retreat, and when that is no longer an option, then use force. (yes, the difference between the two could be a milisecond, but...the cases posed by CNN don't appear to be so.)

      May 1, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
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