In truth, the Stand Your Ground principle, which holds only that one may fight back without the duty to retreat if attacked, has been restored as the American norm after a short and naïve hiatus. What we are witnessing now is the resurrection of an old and valuable principle. As Andrew Branca of Legal Insurrection notes, the first explicit reference to the notion comes not in 2005 with the passage of Florida’s now-infamous law, but instead in the case of Runyon v. State, all the way back in 1877.
By 1980, in all but a few states, the attacked were required to retreat, and to justify themselves to a jury if they did not. The principle appeared to be dead.
Rare are the instances of a people clawing back their autonomy from a growing government. But here is one such case. The abject failure of weaker crime initiatives in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s ushered in a remarkable turnabout during which the same forces that led to more permissive gun laws also led to pointed criticism of “duty to retreat” imperatives, resulting in “Castle Doctrine” policies, which apply inside the home, as well as to Stand Your Ground provisions, which apply everywhere. In the 1970s, even Texans had tamed themselves, officially adding retreat requirements to their legal frameworks.