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Stand your ground laws refer to statutes that allow individuals, when facing an immediate and/or imminent threat of serious bodily harm, to legally use deadly force to protect themselves without retreating. Grounded in the concept of self-defense, stand your ground laws are not without controversy. These statutes call into question the limits and scope of an individual’s security under the law. Before discussing the debates surrounding these laws, this entry reviews the concepts of self-defense and deadly force, key court cases with regard to self-defense, and the retreat requirement included in some stand your ground laws.

Self-Defense and Deadly Force

The British poet Samuel Butler has been credited with saying, “Self-preservation is the first law of nature.” Under limited and specific circumstances, one may even justifiably kill ...

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