Occasionally we like to review Michigan’s version of the “Stand Your Ground” law. So, here we go …
Michigan - -(Ammoland.com)-The full text of the statute, MCL 780.972, is cited below.
It isn’t officially called “Stand Your Ground.” But, that is essentially what it is. It has also sometimes been referred to as an “Extended Castle Doctrine,” because, it extended the ability of citizens to defend themselves without retreating beyond their homes.
In the days before passage of what is officially known as the Self Defense Act of 2006, Michigan was a state that put an undue burden on self-defense.
There was an affirmative duty to retreat as far as possible before defending oneself. This led to citizens who had been attacked, and successfully defended themselves, having to explain to police, prosecutors, and juries that they either had no opportunity to retreat safely, or had retreated as much as possible before defending themselves. In other words, there was the possibility, even probability in some counties, that what an ordinary person would adjudge to be an act of legitimate self-defense would be prosecuted, and possibly convicted of, a crime because of a failure to comply with a nebulous standard regarding what constituted an opportunity to safely retreat.
The old law was in conflict with generations of Anglo-American tradition and jurisprudence as well as common-sense. One of the first things I was taught at the Infantry School at Fort Benning was that it is never a good idea to turn one’s back on a deadly threat.
Since October of 2006, Michigan law has been more closely aligned with common sense and the rights of innocent citizens. MCRGO fully supported the Self-Defense Act as part of a package of bills that made positive changes to Michigan law and supported citizens’ rights to defend themselves from criminals. Several members of our Board of Directors were involved as sponsors and supporters of the bills.
Note that our law only provides for the right to “Stand Your Ground” in cases where you are not involved in a crime. The simplest way to state the rule is to say that your gun is there to protect you and others only in the “gravest extreme,” (to borrow a phrase from Massad Ayoob.) Deadly force should always be a last resort. If you can safely disengage, or avoid a threat, you are always better off, financially, legally, and psychologically.
SELF-DEFENSE ACT (EXCERPT) – Act 309 of 2006
780.972 Use of deadly force by individual not engaged in commission of crime; conditions.
(1) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses deadly force may use deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if either of the following applies:
(a) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent death of or imminent great bodily harm to himself or herself or to another individual.
(b) The individual honestly and reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the imminent sexual assault of himself or herself or of another individual.
(2) An individual who has not or is not engaged in the commission of a crime at the time he or she uses force other than deadly force may use force other than deadly force against another individual anywhere he or she has the legal right to be with no duty to retreat if he or she honestly and reasonably believes that the use of that force is necessary to defend himself or herself or another individual from the imminent unlawful use of force by another individual.
Steve Dulan (www.StevenWDulan.com) is a member of the Board of Directors of the MCRGO and the MCRGO Foundation, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the MCRGO Foundation. He is an attorney in private practice in East Lansing and Adjunct Professor of firearms law at The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, as well as an Endowment Member of NRA.
The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. Formed from just eight people in 1996, we now have thousands of members and numerous affiliated clubs across the state. We’re growing larger and more effective every day.
Our mission statement is: “Promoting safe use and ownership of firearms through education, litigation, and legislation” Visit: www.mcrgo.org