Gunsmoke and Legal Mirrors: Women Surviving Intimate Battery and Deadly Legal Doctrines

14 Journal of Law and Policy 617 (2006)

49 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2012 Last revised: 25 Jul 2015

Date Written: October 1, 2005


Written directly following the passage of the controversial “Stand Your Ground” Act, this article illuminates the circumstances of Florida's adoption of that piece of legislation. In 2005, the National Rifle Association announced the “first step of a multi-state strategy” to expand beyond the walls of a dwelling the castle doctrine’s privilege in which a person is permitted to use deadly force without retreating. After securing the adoption of the Stand Your Ground Act that expanded and strengthened the castle doctrine in Florida, the NRA vowed to “begin dropping bills” in other state capitals. The statutory re-casting of the castle doctrine gives occasion for the broader project of the article – to examine gender contradictions in the construction of legal doctrine. Women who live with (and kill) battering men must fight for their lives a second time in a criminal justice system that is structured with inhospitable legal doctrines such as those in the Stand Your Ground Act. Other people (mostly white men) have been given license to carry concealed weapons and expanded legal protections for the use of deadly force in the public domain. The Stand Your Ground Act demonstrates that the experiences of white women and people of color are relegated to the narrow, contradictory, and dangerous margins of the law. This article focuses on the discriminatory effects of gender incongruities in legal doctrine, which are particularly lethal in Florida’s Stand Your Ground Act.

Keywords: Stand Your Ground, castle doctrine, retreat, imminence, gender bias, domestic violence, concealed guns, National Rifle Association, NRA, deadly force, Model Penal Code, self defense, battered woman syndrome, guns, violence

JEL Classification: K14

Suggested Citation

Koons, Judith E., Gunsmoke and Legal Mirrors: Women Surviving Intimate Battery and Deadly Legal Doctrines (October 1, 2005). 14 Journal of Law and Policy 617 (2006), Available at SSRN:

Judith E. Koons (Contact Author)

Barry University School of Law ( email )

6441 E. Colonial Dr.
Orlando, FL 32807
United States

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