Cape Cod's Reps should not endorse "Stand Your Ground" [Op-Ed]

Cape delegates need to stand down on the “Stand Your Ground” bill

By Brian R. Mannal, Esq.

Every so often, politicians get something right… The proposed “stand your ground” bill (S.661) co-sponsored by Rep. Demetrius Atsalis is not one of those times.

Every so often, politicians get something right… The proposed “stand your ground” bill co-sponsored by State Rep. Demetrius Atsalis is not one of those times.The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the oldest judicial system in continuous existence in the Western Hemisphere. Quite literally, our courts pre-date the birth of our nation. This unique distinction affords us the benefit and wisdom of (literally) centuries of common law and common sense with respect to the rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Under Massachusetts’ law, a person cannot lawfully act in self-defense unless he has exhausted all other reasonable alternatives before resorting to the use of force. In other words, a person may use physical force in self-defense only if he cannot get out of the situation in some other way that was available and reasonable at the time. This duty to retreat was not borne out of cowardice, but rather the common understanding that the avoidance of violence is preferential to unnecessary bloodshed.       

The courts of the Commonwealth have long recognized an exception to this rule. The so-called “castle doctrine” holds that a person is not required to refrain from using deadly force against an intruder or retreat from their own home, if the occupant reasonably believes that the intruder is about to inflict great bodily injury or death on him or on another person who is lawfully in the dwelling.

Vote in our Poll.Should our local Reps sponsor the state "Strand Your Ground" bill.Several weeks ago, the unintended consequences of Florida’s “stand your ground” law made national headlines when an unarmed juvenile was shot and killed by an armed adult who justified the use of deadly force on the grounds that he was entitled to stand his ground— nowhere near his home. 

As a Democratic candidate for State Representative in the 2nd Barnstable District, as well as a practicing attorney, I do not believe that this legislation is warranted or necessary.

Brian Mannal
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