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

    Forced? Dang. What? Do ya'll imagine I have you by the hair and am holding your faces to my page(s) lol? C'mon. We all fast-forward through parts of movies we don't like. Pretend yer at home blogging on your PC and just skip the post[er]s ya don't like. 🙂

    May 1, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    Lotta imputing wrong motive going on here today. Did all of you gals stay-up past yer bedtime again? he he he....he he he he he. lmao. OK. Sorry. (ahem) Where weren't we?

    May 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Why you disparage people for having of difference of opinion is curious. Why do you think all of the posters are women? Did you stay up too late last night?

      May 1, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. raven

    I did.

    May 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    I did. That's shorter than Joah Digs.

    May 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chit

      Huh? What is a "Joah Digs"? Make sense, man!

      May 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Garbo

    I love my life, I value all that I have and all that I shall someday have. If you come into my sanctuary and do anything to harm me or display to me that you do not hold my life in high value, you crossed the line and if I have to choose protecting all that I am and have, you can be sure I will. You have free will and if you use it direct it in harmful way, then you chose to desecrate my peace. And peace is far too valuable to let go of. I don't need a shotgun to take care of myself. If I have my home posted and you choose to ignore that post, you chose to defile me and my love of quiet enjoyment. And there will be no remorse for saying goodbye to you and watching your life end for you chose to take the path of destruction and could not control your free will.. I do no harm to others, I expect the same in return.

    May 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phil in Oregon

      I'm pretty easy going, and want to give the other guy plenty of grace and a lot of room to make the right choices. There is a line you better not cross, though. If I think you are a danger to my kids you could well end up in the graveyard. I never felt this way till I had them.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MomtoBE

    Someday My child will grow and be a man or woman of virtue and peace. He or she will love life and cherish his or her blessings. He will be a believer in goodness and shine with the light from within. I carry life, I want life to be joyful and blessed. But if anyone tries to take that from me, I will fight and I will defend my life and that of my blood. Stay away from my safety zone or I will have no problem ending your very existence.

    May 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. For Leeintulsa

    A Child Loaned
    "I'll lend you for a little time
    A child of Mine." He said.
    "For you to love the while he lives
    And mourn for when he's dead.
    It may be six or seven year
    Or twenty-two or three
    But will you, till I call him back
    Take care of him for Me?
    He'll bring his charms to gladden you
    And should his stay be brief,
    You'll have his lovely memories
    As solace for your grief.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rina

      Edgar Guest. My sympathy for the loss of your child, leeintulsa.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ReasonableBeliefofseriousbodilyinjury!

    When someone breaks into the INTERIOR of your home...not outside in the common areas of a complex for God's sake! It is common sense that you use deadly force only when you are seriously threated with serious or deadly bodily injury.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. Travis

    We are becoming wimps.... too afraid to fight with our fists. When you fight with your fists... you can easily disable somebody without killing them. Nowadays if someone comes at you with their fists.. people are quick to draw a gun and kill them. Less people die by fists than they do with guns. Yet we are afraid to get our butts beat. An unarmed man should never be killed. They obviously do not want to cause harm...or else they would have brought a weapon.

    May 2, 2012 at 4:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Brent

      Many people are trained in combat sports and able to kill easily. An unarmed man can be just as deadly as an armed man... thus closing the gap and moving within striking distance is plenty sufficient reason to defend oneself with deadly force.

      May 2, 2012 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
    • CTStorm

      That's just dumb. Haven't you ever heard the expression "Only a fool brings his fists to a gun fight" ? If you are in your home....or your car....minding your own business....and someone tries to rob you, or provokes a fight, why should you be obligated to fight by their rules and possibly take a beating ? You have no way of knowing if you'll actually win, or that the other person won't have a weapon. Plenty of unarmed men have killed other unarmed men. Only a fool would let that happen.... by being unarmed.

      May 3, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. jefflazrn

    Break into my home. Go ahead. I will shoot first and ask questions later.

    May 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • CTStorm

      Amen Brother ! This country is turning into a bunch of helpless panty waist victims.

      May 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cindy

    I suppose we can just get rid of our entire police force. Why waste money training officers to handle specific situations, when civilians can legally make a snap judgement without any training and murder without reprisal or punishment?

    May 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. James

    Right now your best line of defense is to not engage, but if that is taken away and there are times when someone won't let you retreat, the next best thing is your cell phone to call 911 as all calls are recorded and admissible as evidence. And better yet in addition, on your phone is a camera and or video. But even then those may not be enough to dissuade and in those instances you are dealing with someone who is high or just does not care and THEN using a weapon is justified if you or your loved ones are in danger.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CTStorm

    I would defend my family and my property with deadly force. Those who say that vicitims should retreat whenever possible are cowards. If a person is willing to threaten or endanger your life, or the life of your family members for something that is YOURS....then they can pay for it with their lives. Is it worth losing MY life over a TV or a car or wallet ? No. But it's certainly worth THAT P.O.S.'s life to stand up to domestic terrorism.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Christina

    I'm hoping that CNN will report more on the Daniel Adkin's murder case. Seeing that the one article mentioning it received over 8,000 comments, I think it is definitely a noteworthy story. Though I understand there may be some political elements of the case that make it harder to report, I think it is a story that is quite moving and will garner more discussion and evaluation of 'Stand Your Ground' and similar laws.

    Clearly, this case has similarities to the Trayvon Martin case (though without the racial profiling aspect) so it brings further attention to expanded gun laws which is something that is important to discuss in America and could eventually save lives. I truly hope this case will be further reconsidered for discussion as it appears the family does not have the means to mobilize supporters for their cause of prosecuting the aggressor in the situation. By highlighting the commonality of the laws that allowed this death to happen, I think reporting the story further will not have a negative impact on the message of racial injustice highlighted in the Trayvon case, as that case has nationwide support and hopefully justice will be served.

    Thank you for your consideration.

    May 3, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
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