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Gun Law For Beginners: What Is “Stand Your Ground?”

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One of the biggest problems with the Second Amendment community is widespread confusion about what the law actually says. There are lots of myths out there and unfortunately, people take them as Gospel. That’s a huge problem, because if you ever have to use your weapon in a real-life gunfight, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to have to defend yourself a second time – in a court of law.

Once you get to court, you’re going to be under intense scrutiny. Nearly everything that you’ve ever posted online is going to be picked through with a fine-tooth comb. Your motivations will be called into question and if you’re an active member of the Second Amendment community, there’s a good chance that a DA will try to paint you as some kind of unhinged gun nut, eager to shoot someone down in cold blood. 

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This is especially true if you live in a community that is hostile to Second Amendment rights. You don’t have to live in a so-called “blue state” for this to be the case. If you live in a “blue” enclave within a red state – or even have a gun grabber for a District Attorney – you might find yourself not just on trial, but the centerpiece of a reelection campaign, being made an example of, despite your best intentions.

This is true no matter how closely you follow the law. The main difference is that, the more closely you follow the law and know your legal responsibilities as well as your Constitutional rights, the more likely you are to be found “not guilty” by a jury of your peers. 

One of the most misunderstood concepts in Second Amendment law is “stand your ground” laws. So let’s talk about what this legal principle actually means.

What Is A “Stand Your Ground” State?

“Stand your ground” is a legal concept designed to create a robust Second Amendment culture in certain states. Most states with “stand your ground” have it enshrined in statute by the legislature. Other states simply have “stand your ground” as the prevailing legal interpretation confirmed by the courts. 

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Currently there are 30 states with “stand your ground” via statute, with another eight that have the same legal principle as a matter of judicial interpretation. 

What Is A “Duty To Retreat” State?

The opposite of “stand your ground” sheds some light on what “stand your ground” means is its opposite: “duty to retreat.”

Eleven states have “duty to retreat” as the law of the land, however one (New York) does not require a retreat when faced with sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery or burglary. 

In every “duty to retreat” state, there is a “castle doctrine.” We covered this elsewhere, but the castle doctrine states that there is no duty to retreat when you are in your home. Four states extend this to the workplace, with an additional state extending it to the workplace if you are the owner or operator of the workplace.

What Does “Stand Your Ground” Mean?

Now that we’ve discussed the states that have “stand your ground” and the states that do not, let’s talk about what the law means. As stated above, the concept of “duty to retreat” sheds some light on this.

What “stand your ground” means is that you have a legal right to defend yourself using deadly force any place you are legally allowed to be. Details of what this means will vary quite a bit from state to state, so make sure to check out what it means wherever you live or spend a lot of time. However, there are some general principles that apply in most or all “stand your ground” states. 

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First, the general law of self-defense with deadly force applies. You have to be defending yourself or someone else against an unlawful attack. The unlawful attack has to meet certain guidelines. In most places this means you have to have a reasonable fear of grievous bodily harm, serious and violent sexual assault, or death. 

Another general principle of the law is that you have to be attacked. You can’t go around starting trouble and then “stand your ground” by pulling a gun when you lose the fight. More generally speaking, you can’t be engaged in the commission of a crime – any crime – and fall back on a “stand your ground” law to protect you. 

Do “Stand Your Ground Laws” Allow You To Shoot First?

One of the main reasons why “stand your ground” laws are so controversial is that critics think they’re “shoot first” laws. 

There’s some truth to this. You are allowed to shoot first under “stand your ground” laws. However, there’s a flaw in the logic: The idea behind calling “stand your ground” laws “shoot first” laws is that there is no reason to shoot first in a defensive situation. 

There are a number of defensible reasons to use a handgun preemptively and defensively. We’re not going to get into them, because that’s getting close to giving legal advice, which we’re obviously not allowed to do. But think of it this way: Do you believe that the only reason to use a firearm in defense in a public place is because someone shoots at you first?

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Neither do we. 

“Stand your ground” laws might be controversial and unpopular among gun grabbers, but they’re a way for average Americans, including women, the disabled, the elderly and people who are just not physically strong and imposing to defend themselves against violent predators seeking to do them harm. Without “stand your ground” laws, concealed carry is basically a non sequitur: Why bother carrying in public if you don’t have the opportunity to defend yourself legally?

Do you live in a state with “Stand Your Ground” laws? If not, how does this impact how you view self-defense? Leave a comment below.

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Protect Your Second Amendment Rights: Oppose SB 1160 and SB 1253 in California


On Tuesday, April 2nd at 8:30am, the California Senate Public Safety Committee is slated to review two concerning bills that threaten the rights of firearm owners across the Golden State. As staunch advocates for the Second Amendment, it’s imperative for NRA Members and supporters of gun rights to take action. Senate Bill 1160 and Senate Bill 1253 pose significant threats, and it’s crucial to voice opposition to these proposed measures.

Senate Bill 1160: Annual Firearm Registration Requirement


Senate Bill 1160 represents a direct assault on the rights of law-abiding gun owners in California. This bill seeks to mandate an annual re-registration process for all firearms with the Department of Justice. If enacted, firearm owners would be compelled to navigate bureaucratic hurdles each year and pay undisclosed fees to maintain their registration status.

This onerous requirement not only burdens responsible gun owners with unnecessary red tape but also sets a dangerous precedent for government overreach into the fundamental rights protected by the Second Amendment. Under SB 1160, failure to comply with the annual registration mandate could result in severe penalties, including fines of up to $1000 and the potential confiscation of unregistered firearms.

Upholding Second Amendment Freedoms: Take Action Against SB 1160

It’s imperative for Second Amendment supporters to stand united against Senate Bill 1160. This legislation threatens the core principles of individual liberty and firearm ownership rights. We urge all concerned citizens to contact members of the Senate Public Safety Committee and vehemently oppose SB 1160.

Senate Bill 1253: Restricting Firearm Possession without Firearm Safety Card

Another concerning proposal slated for review is Senate Bill 1253, which seeks to further restrict firearm ownership rights in California. Under existing law, individuals are required to obtain a Firearm Safety Card to purchase or receive a firearm. However, SB 1253 aims to extend this requirement to possession, effectively prohibiting law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms without a valid Firearm Safety Card.

This additional hurdle not only imposes unnecessary burdens on responsible gun owners but also fails to address the root causes of crime and violence. Criminals, by definition, do not adhere to firearm laws, rendering such measures ineffective at curbing illicit gun activities. Instead, SB 1253 unfairly penalizes law-abiding citizens and undermines their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Defending Second Amendment Liberties: Oppose SB 1253

Senate Bill 1253 represents yet another attempt to erode the Second Amendment freedoms of Californians. By imposing stringent requirements for firearm possession, this bill unfairly targets responsible gun owners while doing little to enhance public safety. It’s essential for proponents of gun rights to take a stand against SB 1253 and advocate for the preservation of constitutional liberties.

Take Action: Protect Second Amendment Rights in California


As the Senate Public Safety Committee prepares to review SB 1160 and SB 1253, it’s paramount for NRA Members and supporters of the Second Amendment to make their voices heard. Use the Take Action button below to contact committee members and urge them to oppose these egregious bills. Together, we can defend our cherished freedoms and safeguard the right to keep and bear arms in California.

Do you live in California? What do you do to oppose greater encroachment on your right to keep and bear arms? Leave your thoughts in the comments

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The AR-15: A Versatile Platform for Every Shooter


The AR pattern rifle, affectionately known as the “AR-15,” has become a staple in the firearms community, offering unparalleled versatility and customization options. From budget-friendly builds to high-end boutique rifles, there seems to be a configuration for every shooter’s preferences and needs. But with so many parts available, is there truly a rifle for everyone? And is there even a wrong answer to the AR question?

Diverse Builders, Diverse Builds

The AR-15 has evolved beyond just a firearm; it’s now a sport in itself, with enthusiasts eagerly assembling rifles tailored to their specific desires. Whether someone is aiming for the cheapest build, the most boutique setup, or a specialized rifle for a particular purpose like suppressor use, the AR platform offers endless possibilities. This diversity among builders reflects the platform’s adaptability and appeal to a wide range of shooters.

Navigating Budget Builds: A Personal Journey

Recently, there’s been a surge in interest in building affordable AR-style rifles, prompting many to explore budget-friendly options. One such endeavor involved sourcing parts directly from Bear Creek Arsenal (BCA), a company with a reputation for offering budget-friendly components. Despite initial reservations due to past controversies and quality concerns, the experience of assembling a rifle from BCA parts proved surprisingly positive.

Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Upon receiving the parts from BCA, there was a mix of anticipation and skepticism. However, upon inspection, there was a notable nod of approval for the quality of finish work, packaging, and overall presentation. While some parts lacked robust packaging, none arrived damaged, showcasing BCA’s attention to detail. Despite some vagueness regarding product specs, BCA’s use of 4150 CM-V and 416 Stainless barrels instilled confidence in the build.

Assembly Practices: Attention to Detail

Building the lower receiver proved relatively straightforward, but attention to detail was paramount. Proper torqueing of the castle nut, staking the end plate, and meticulous lubrication ensured adherence to factory specifications and optimal performance. The importance of using proper tools, lubricants, and assembly techniques cannot be overstated, particularly for critical components like the trigger and gas system.

Navigating Upper Receiver Assembly

While assembling the lower receiver was relatively straightforward, the upper receiver presented more complexity and significance. Attention to detail during barrel installation, gas system alignment, and muzzle device timing were crucial for ensuring accuracy, reliability, and safety. Thermal fitting techniques and proper torqueing procedures were employed to optimize barrel-to-receiver fit and gas system performance.

Range Testing and Final Thoughts

After meticulous assembly and function testing, the rifle was taken to the range for reliability and accuracy testing. Using a variety of ammunition types and optics configurations, the rifle performed admirably, showcasing respectable accuracy and reliability. While there were minor issues such as an over-gassed barrel, these were addressed with aftermarket solutions. Overall, Bear Creek Arsenal’s components proved to offer excellent value for budget-conscious builders, demonstrating that affordability doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on quality.

The AR-15 is a highly adaptable platform allowing builds for a wide array of preferences for all kinds of shooters. Whether building a budget-friendly rifle or investing in high-end components, the AR platform offers endless customization possibilities. While each builder may have their own priorities and preferences, the beauty of the AR-15 lies in its ability to accommodate them all, ensuring that there truly is a rifle for every shooter.

Do you own an AR-15? Have you ever built one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Mack W. Gwinn Jr.: A Tribute to a Firearms Pioneer


Mack W. Gwinn Jr., a visionary in the firearms industry, passed away on March 11, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and dedication to his craft. Born in Florida, Gwinn’s journey into the world of firearms began with his service in the U.S. Army Special Forces, where he earned several Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star during seven deployments to Vietnam.

From Military Service to Firearms Innovation

Following his military service, Gwinn transitioned into the firearms industry, where he made significant contributions. One of his notable achievements was acquiring the rights to the Colt IMP-221, a stockless, gas-operated bullpup pistol initially developed for aircrew survival in the U.S. Air Force. Redesigning the concept to accept the 5.56 NATO caliber and standard AR magazines, Gwinn founded Gwinn Arms and introduced the Bushmaster Arm Pistol in the early 1970s.

Pioneering Personal Defense Weapons

The Bushmaster Arm Pistol, an innovative pistol-sized firearm utilizing an intermediate round, predated the concept of personal defense weapons (PDWs) by a generation. Although not a commercial blockbuster, the Arm Pistol laid the foundation for Bushmaster Firearms and left an indelible mark on the industry.

Legacy of Innovation

Beyond the Bushmaster Arm Pistol, Gwinn’s influence extended to various other firearms projects and inventions. He held patents for extended capacity magazines and developed concepts for firearms applications ranging from target pistols to recoil reduction systems. His ingenuity and curiosity led him to explore diverse projects, including vehicle design and accessory development.

Remembering a Trailblazer

Mack W. Gwinn Jr.’s passing marks the end of an era in the firearms community. His contributions to the industry will be remembered for years to come, serving as inspiration for future generations of innovators. In honoring his memory, donations can be made to the Maine Veterans Project, and condolences may be expressed to his family at BrookingsSmith.

Mack W. Gwinn Jr. leaves behind a legacy of excellence, marked by his unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of firearms design and technology. His impact on the industry will continue to resonate, ensuring his place among the pantheon of firearms pioneers.

Do you know Mack W. Gwinn Jr? How about his famous firearms? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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