On Tuesday, the Louisiana House will hear HB 235, a bill that would further expand Stand Your Ground laws in houses of worship. Though the bill purports to protect churchgoers, it would increase the potential for violence in houses of worship, which are already covered by existing Stand Your Ground law.
Under current law, any citizen in Louisiana can use deadly force to protect themselves or others from someone they reasonably believe is a threat, regardless of their location. HB 235 would expand this law to allow someone in a church to shoot to kill a person who enters unlawfully, even if the shooter has no reason to fear injury or harm in the situation.
Houses of worship are unique places that welcome people from all walks of life, making it difficult to determine when someone enters unlawfully. This bill essentially permits churchgoers to shoot to kill anyone who at first glance seems as though they might not belong — even if they pose no threat. This law would have deadly consequences and leaves no room for error or misunderstanding.
Stand Your Ground laws are inherently dangerous; at least 30 people nationwide are killed each month as a result of Stand Your Ground laws and they are associated with a 32 percent increase in firearm homicide rates. These laws also have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Expanding this law would only increase instances of gun violence in places of worship and put communities of color at greater risk.
Volunteers with the Louisiana chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will attend the hearing. More information on the dangers of Stand Your Ground laws is available here. If you’d like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to reach out.