Following the lead of a 2005 Florida law (which I blogged about last year), many states are considering "stand your ground" laws regarding self-defense. Although the details vary, the fundamental premise of all these laws is that a person attacked by a violent felon need not retreat before using justifiable force, even when the attack takes place in a public space. A new article from the Christian Science Monitor looks at the debate over the new laws, and includes a quote from me:
"These laws send a more general message to society that public spaces belong to the public - and the public will protect [public places] rather than trying to run into the bathroom of the nearest Starbucks and hope the police show up," says David Kopel, [research] director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo.
For historical perspective on the debate, see my article "The Self-Defense Cases: How the United States Supreme Court Confronted a Hanging Judge in the Nineteenth Century and Taught Some Lessons for Jurisprudence in the Twenty-first," from the American Journal of Criminal Law, which discusses, inter alia, how the Supreme Court addressed the "no duty to retreat" issue in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.