In 1955 Chicago, I sought donations door-to-door for our scout troop. I was 11. One evening, in scout uniform, I knocked at a house where a white-haired man, peering through a window, suddenly raised a handgun. Shocked and afraid, I backed away and ran. I don’t know why he raised a gun.
Nevertheless, in many states today, he might legally have shot me because of perceived danger, however mistaken, for his life. Obviously, his root emotion was fear, perhaps aggravated by belief that our laws were inadequate for protection or even hostile.
Just laws, enforced, reduce such fear. To get just laws, lawmakers compromise and avoid partisan gridlock; and activist citizens, while seeking change, continue respecting the rule of law. Rampant fear in society historically degenerates into chaos, then despotism. A free people cannot merely choose between “stand your ground” and “backing-away.” Only just laws, enforced, overcome fear.