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With ‘Stand Your Ground’ Vote Likely in Minnesota, Here’s What’s at Stake

After a procedural vote Monday, members of the Minnesota House of Representatives will likely bring H 238, a Stand Your Ground bill, to the House floor for a vote later this week.

Under current Minnesota law, a person can use force – including deadly force – to defend himself or herself anywhere. But in public, a person must refrain from using deadly force if there is a safe way to avoid the danger. H 238 would upend this traditional self-defense law and encourage armed vigilantism by allowing people to shoot to kill in public, even when there is a clear and safe alternative. That would give everyday citizens in Minnesota more leeway to shoot than the United States military gives soldiers in war zones. A fact sheet on H 238 is available here.

With a vote on H 238 likely this week, it’s crucial to review the lessons from other states that have passed or considered similar legislation:

Stand Your Ground laws have been deadly in other states. Analyzing data from 21 states with Stand Your Ground laws, Texas A & M University researchers found these laws have been associated with an increase in homicides, resulting in 600 more homicides per year.

These laws have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Research has shown that when white shooters kill black victims, the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable 11 times more frequently than when the shooter is black and the victim is white.

States have overwhelmingly rejected the push for Stand Your Ground laws. Since the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 brought national attention to Stand Your Ground laws, only two new states have enacted such legislation.

In March, more than 200 volunteers with the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Everytown Survivor Network, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, urged lawmakers to oppose dangerous legislation, including H 238. Lawmakers may soon be forced to decide whether they stand with these volunteers — and the other opponents of “Shoot First” legislation who packed a March statehouse hearing on Stand Your Ground — or with NRA lobbyists pushing this reckless bill despite the deadly impact that similar laws have had in other states.

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