The idea that people have a right to defend themselves—even using force that would otherwise be illegal—harks back centuries to English common law, which formed the basis of the American legal system. We navigate the murky and still-evolving world of self-defense laws in the U.S.
On January 27, 2018, 34-year-old Bryan Lawson shot and killed his wife, Beth Lawson, in their Tennessee home, the explosively violent climax to their abusive relationship. Many would assume Bryan was the abuser, inflicting brutality against Beth. But it was actually Beth—a former National Guard service member—who regularly assaulted Bryan, who was disabled.