The winds of political change are blowing strongly in the direction of gun safety.
The NH House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 12 – 6 to recommend (HB 135) to the full House the repeal of the infamous Stand Your Ground law. This law allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves whenever they feel threatened. Aye, there’s the rub.
Suppose two people argue and one shoots and kills the other. If there are no witnesses, the shooter can be acquitted simply by claiming that he or she felt threatened. Who is there to say otherwise?
According to safercommunities.nh, “a careful review of nearly 200 case files found that most of the people killed or wounded in Florida ‘stand your ground’ incidents were not armed and were not committing a crime at the time of the deadly confrontation.” Safercommunities continues, “A review of court cases in Florida found that one-third of killers invoking the state’s ‘stand your ground’ defense had previously been arrested for illegal possession of a weapon or threatening someone with a gun.”
It is not as if citizens would be left defenseless if Stand Your Ground were repealed. For 34 years prior to Stand Your Ground, the “Castle Doctrine” was state law and afforded Granite Staters thoroughly satisfactory protection. According to the Castle Doctrine, people could use deadly force to defend their homes. In addition, a person could employ deadly force outside the home, so long as that individual made every reasonable attempt to avoid being harmed in a perilous situation before shooting. The Castle Doctrine would replace the Stand Your Ground law.
The Stand Your Ground law is overkill, both figuratively and literally. It needs to go.
The myth of the political invincibility of the NRA has been shattered. Gun safety received a second boost when a gun safety proponent, Robin Kelly, overwhelmed Debbie Halverson, a candidate given an A rating by the NRA, in a race for the Democratic nomination for Congress from Illinois’ 2nd District. Kelly had 52 percent of the vote to Halverson’s 24 percent.
The Democratic nomination is tantamount to election in this heavily Democratic district, particularly so as the Republican candidate in the special election, Paul Wallace, is a convicted felon. Kelly’s success came about as a result of a well-organized ground game supplemented by substantial financial backing for television commercials from a pro-gun safety SuperPac.
The NRA has gained the reputation of invincibility in previous elections because it faced poorly developed opposition which couldn’t offset the NRA’s generous political contributions.
Kelly stated after the election (Chicago Sun-Times, 2/27/13), “You sent a message that was heard around the state and across the nation. A message that tells the NRA that their days of holding our country hostage are coming to an end. And their days of scaring Congress into submission on gun control are coming to a close.”
A national poll gave a third indication of a growing gale of support for gun safety. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll showed that “61 percent believe the laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter, which is up five points since January.” (NBC News.com, 2/28/13). Only 4 percent supported weakening gun safety laws.
“The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted Feb. 21-24 of 1,000 adults (including 300 cell phone-only respondents), and it has a margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.”
The signs are everywhere. The winds are at the back of gun safety efforts to protect the lives of innocent Americans.
Writer’s Note: The bill (HB 135) to repeal the Stand Your Ground vote is scheduled for a vote by the full House on Wednesday, March 6. Contact your local state representatives and ask them to vote to repeal the Stand Your Ground law. The vote will be close.