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Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel
Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

Understanding Missouri’s stand your ground law

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2019 | Homicide |

Missouri was the 25th state to adopt a “stand your ground” law. This statute states that gun owners have a right to defend themselves and their families whether in their homes or elsewhere. 

The first instance of this law used as a defense occurred just a few weeks after the new law went into effect. In the case, a college student tried to sell a used cell phone. When the buyer ran off with it, the student fired his gun as he ran away. The case calls into question the power and limitations of stand your ground laws and when they actually do apply. 

There must be a reason for deadly force

It is critical to understand that a gun has the power to take a life. Someone may break into your home, but they may not have the power to or intention of physically harming you. If the intruder attacks you or a loved one, then the stand your ground law would apply. However, if someone has no intention of harming you, then there are other ways you should try to defend yourself. You can threaten to contact law enforcement to try to get the person to leave without a firearm coming into play. In the above-mentioned case with the college student, the thief ran away with his back turned to the firearm owner. The college student did not have a right to shoot at him in this instance. 

You have to be the residency’s legal occupant

Missouri residents also have no right to shoot someone breaking in or trespassing in a home that does not belong to them. Even if you are a guest in the home, you cannot shoot someone who breaks in. You also cannot threaten the use of your firearm to get rid of a guest who refuses to leave. It is paramount to read the law thoroughly to understand how far your rights extend.