The most recent analysis of more than 100 fatal "stand your ground" cases by Tampa Bay Times staff writers Kameel Stanley and Connie Humburg found that nearly 60 percent of people claiming the self-defense legal protection had been previously arrested, and one in three were accused of a violent crime. All told, 119 people who invoked "stand your ground" after killing someone had been arrested 327 times, not counting traffic violations or other minor arrests.
This is a far cry from the scenario lawmakers envisioned when passing the most expansive self-defense law in the country at the urging of the National Rifle Association. The law expands the "castle doctrine" to give people the right to use lethal force without the duty to retreat whenever they feel at great bodily harm. The thinking was that law-abiding people should be able to defend themselves against an unprovoked assault.
But, just as law enforcement warned at the time, the record demonstrates that people invoking the law are often armed and dangerous, not innocent victims of a random attack. They are people like Maurice Moorer, who landed in jail multiple times and allegedly threatened his then-wife with violence and guns before he killed his ex-wife's boyfriend in 2008. Moorer shot into his victim's car 14 times, but he wasn't prosecuted after he claimed his victim was going to the car for a gun, and a gun was later found in the car.