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

    Of course their are exceptions to every rule. But not 50 million of them. (actual number of legal abortions conducted up through 2006. No official records were kept for the 10s of millions of illegal abortions performed previous to the Supreme Court flip-flopping on abortion)

    April 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    @Zues...corporate fascism, not 'feudalism'. ty (sort of like killing well known suspects rather than arresting them and dragging them to justice)

    April 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Ummmm

    🙂 Yes indeed. Life and death IS only Gods to give or take away. Like wise, Peace IS only had with Gods kingdom...remember that at ARMEGGONDON!

    April 30, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    @ hamsta, i cant believe im saying this but high 5 to you! Am in total agreement. I just do NOT believe this self defense thing this clown is trying to pawn off! He was the aggressor and needs to be tried!

    April 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pope Benedict XVI

    I agree with Philip. No home abortions, even in self defense.

    April 30, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ummmm

    @ Pope Benedict XVI, Why are you hating on a fetus that hasn't done anything to you.
    And this post IS well worth a second read.


    ...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.

    OOOOOOOOOOOOOH, did the peanut gallery stop flapping their gums? lol

    April 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      People talking about the posted subject is hardly flapping their gums, nor are they the peanut gallery.
      You and Philip,with all of his different names, are having your own converstion.
      That's fine.
      You flap your gums your way, we'll talk our way.
      It's both our right, wouldn't you say?

      April 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • raven

      Ummm, you gotta nerve to bring up anyone changing names. Youve used several. And why do you stand on others shoulders? Are you not clever enough to come up with your OWN arguments? You wait til the argument is already going strong before you inject yourself into it. And you ADD nothing. You just PILE on more of whats already been said.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    @Ummmm....Actually, the cammandment is against murdering, not killing. "Thous shalt not MURDER" is listed among the first ten of over 500 commandments. Keep reading and you will find where Justice calls for the execution of murderers, rayepists...even men whom accidently bumped into a pregnant woman who miscarried because of it were sentenced to 7 yrs, possibly even death.. (thoug a way-out is made for such a man) Under God's righteous laws, ZIMMERMAN would get 7 years for manslaughter, and then be sold into slavery to the family he had robbed of life. But then, President Obama himself would have been executed for calling for the death of a suspected criminal whom had not been convicted (or even formally charged) of any crime at all. Hence, the ignorance of God's 500-plus commandments, and our just being familiar with the first 10.

    April 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    Only a fool would see a common thread between abortion and the Castle Laws which this blog was addressing. The issues are too important to lump together simplistic rhetoric and reasons for each!

    April 30, 2012 at 11:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      I agree. I am good at puzzling things out, Portland Tony, but I do not get the connection.

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

    @Pope. 50 million cases of "self-defense" you mean.

    April 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ummmm

    @ Portland tony, Does not a fetus have the right to defend it self? Stand it's GROUND!
    Would you have stood your ground if your Mother had tried to abort you?

    April 30, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      This is not an appropriate board for abortion issues. It is the SYG board.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    Just as God's righteous laws exposed even King David for murdering a fellow man just so he could sleep with that mans wife (Bath-Sheba), god's laws make it clear that a man is NOT to be put to death until covicicted of a crime worthy of death. What court convicted Usama Bin Laden or those two passport carrying US CITIZENS WHO WERE RECENTLY MURDERED BY THEIR OWN PRESIDENT while away in Yemen? (a first in US history) Name me the US judge who even charged OBL for 9/11.(you can't, because there are none) Now, how can you feel right about executing a man whom was never even charged?

    April 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aaron

      Phillip, Are you saying that Bin Laden did not deserve his fate?

      May 1, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    @banasy. Then you agree. Until all the facts are in...until American Justice has fully investigated a man and proven in a court of law that beyond a SHADOW of doubt that this man, OBL, did in FACT PLAN, EXECUTE, AND CARRY-OUT 9/11, this man should be preserved alive, and anyy other man calling for his death is by definition of law, a murderer in intent.

    April 30, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I was replying to raven's 10:29 post.
      Infer what you choose to from it.
      Stand Your Ground has nothing to do with OBL.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      What? Banasy wasn't talking about anything but the SYG law. Do you read anyone's answers in context?

      May 1, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. fernace

    I can't believe we're discussing this! Is is not self-explanatory? If some1 breaks in to your home, you can protect yourself w/whatever weapon available! However, this revisited "wild west" law has to go! We cannot start shooting people willy nilly, because we "percieved" a threat! I remember when stalking was legal, because police couldn't do anything unless the stalker used force! This is taking it in the other direction, where some1 who kills a person can just plead self defense & doesn't even have to prove it! Recind this law immediately, if not sooner!!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Yes, it is self-explanatory, fernace, yes. I agree with you.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    ...glad banasy can finally see that in the USA, only convicted criminals are prosecuted, not mere suspects. I've been trying to get her to understand this simple tenant of the Ameirican Justice system for months now. Glad you finally get it, banasy.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:05 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You have assumed something that simply isn't true, Philip; indeed, you have got absolutely nothing right at all.
      I was, quite simply, talking about something that is diametrically opposite of everything you have posted here tonight.
      I was actually talking about the posted subject.
      Pcnot abortion.
      Not sodomy.
      Not OBL.
      Please stop being disengenuous, for it serves no one.

      May 1, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    • RJM

      I see that you are using your usual prevaricating tactics, Philip. Not very germane to the posted subject matter, and completely unfair to your lates victim.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    Yes. Men (and women) have died for our right to sodomize each other. Many others have spent their lifes savings pleading freenesss of speech cases all the way to the Supreme Court. Amazing disparity, this.

    May 1, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Chit

      What disparity? A right is a right, and should be argued all the way to the SC. I don't like that you sodomize men, but your right to do it is just as protected as my right to say it is.

      May 1, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Oh. What is this? Sodomizing men. Philip? That really has nothing to do with this law.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
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