Wyoming’s Stand Your Ground laws could use refining, ACLU says

Jul 17, 2013

The recent acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin in Florida has raised questions for the other 22 states that have passed Stand Your Ground laws, including Wyoming. 

But Linda Burt, the Executive Director of the Wyoming chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, says the Wyoming law is different than Florida’s.  In 2008, Wyoming legislators voted down a law that would have allowed people to defend themselves “anywhere they had a legal right to be,” as Florida’s law does.  Wyoming’s Castle Doctrine says a person can only “meet force with force” in his own home.  But Linda Burt says the rate of homicide in all 22 Stand Your Ground states has risen sharply since enactment and thinks Wyoming should institute a standard that evaluates if a person acted reasonably.   

“If I shoot a child that comes into my house or I shoot an elderly person who has dementia, it’s assumed that that person was breaking into my house to cause me harm and that’s not always the case,” Burt says.  “So I think the Reasonable Person Standard is a much clearer and much more reasonable standard to use.”

Wyoming’s Castle Doctrine Law was passed only five years ago. Burt says she’s not aware of any cases that have tested the law yet.