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. ResponsibleGuns

    You people who are defending criminals amaze me. You don't want to be shot for stealing a TV? Here is a crazy thought – DONT STEAL A TV!

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

      ResponsibleGuns: Sorry...just disagree. Deadly force should only be applied in the event your or your family's lives are in danger...not if personal property is being taken...and not if they have left the house and are no longer a threat.

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

      If they are in my house, yes. If they are walking down the street with my TV, well, I cannot say.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    I agree. It is a basic human right to defend yourself, your family, and your neighbors from any whom would do harm, even if that means using deadly force. (and even if that means you are an Afghan citizen, aka humans)

    May 1, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      As Afghan has nothing to do with the Stand Your Ground Law here in America, the law does not apply to Afghans. Sorry.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    ...for example, if your land was floating on oil and some fat ass bozo tried to take it home with him, I would see no problem with kicking his ass if no police were on hand to arrest Haliburton for BRIBING Nigerian leaders RATHER than just making Haliburton pay fines to those very same leaders they got caught bribing, in Nigeria.(yes. Wal-Mart did not invent the bribe nor the lobby)

    May 1, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      Again, very tenuous line. If Nigeria had such laws as the ones we are supposed to be talking about, perhaps you would be correct in shooting him.

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

    @AM. Exactly. That's why I would just kick Dick Cheney's ass and not even think about shooting him in the back. Theft has never carried the death penaly, though covering-up thievery once saw God's angel slay 5,000 Israelites whom had witnessed three men stealing gold from the Tabernacle and kept it secret from the authorities. Even if you believe the bible to be a fairy tale, even fairy tales have lessons to be learned.

    May 1, 2012 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    Jus' thinking, do we view young men 'precious as gold', or exependable as humpy toys.(church leaders keeping crimes secret from the law) No wonder organized religion must end for there to be Peace.

    May 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yael

      What? You humpy boys? That is disturbing! Did I read that right?

      May 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cslagenhop

    To the crazies of the world: You are on notice- you threaten people, you act mentally unstable and behave in a threatening manner- you may be put down.

    May 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. raven

    Wow. Anything goes I guess. Even polluting the memory of someones passing to ingraciate oneself to the powers that be.Manipulative, and sickening.

    May 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. raven

    Oh, please...why don't you thank him yourself?? Or was your post designed to impress? (psst, we aren't.)

    May 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. raven

    Wish I could give you a Kleenex for that brown nose of yours.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    Oh. That IS right. Harvard Law teaches assassinating suspects IS true justice. From since before the days of Al Capone, no-doubt. Dang. Why didn't they just shoot Saddam Hussein then? Or Al freaking Capone. (even)

    May 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dead Horse

      Quit beating me!!

      May 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    Doh! I left myself wide open to 'We are more civilized now', or "War Crimes Tribunals are soooo very passe', dahling."

    May 1, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • ZepHead

      Why is the song "Ramble On" going through my head suddently???

      May 1, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    Yes. It is a human right to stand your ground. Afghan and Nigerian citizens ARE human btw. But when they stand their ground, you put them in your handy little terrorist box where our laws don't apply anymore. You know. The laws they teach at Harvard.

    May 1, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    Is that somebody rambing on about someone rambling on about something so many others in the world ramble on about because nothing is done? Nah. Coulldn't be. Could it? (this is usaully where someone says something stupid like 'what's the solution' as if one vote doesn't count. Not that getting a new set of leaders (something that's been done a few times w/same results) would solve the problem. I was looking more on the demand side of economics.

    May 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. raven

    Who needs waterboarding? Anyone would break if they were forced to read this thread....

    May 1, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    Oh, hay. Think DHS should have to pay for extra university classes where our new way of handling suspects is taught? I mean, imagine graduating from law school and having your own law practice only to find-out too late that it's perfectly legal for your client to be killed by the opposing side. That would be a rude awakening.

    May 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ok, not really

      Hey: Used to attract attention, to express surprise, interest, or annoyance, or to elicit agreement.

      Hay: Grass that has been mown and dried for use as fodder.

      Educate yourself before you attempt to educate others.

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