Minneapolis NAACP Condemns HF 238 “Stand Your Ground” Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From NAACP MPLS
Media contact: Leslie Redmond, Minneapolis NAACP Second Vice President, 202-840-1410

Minneapolis NAACP Condemns HF 238 “Stand Your Ground” Bill

The Minneapolis NAACP unequivocally opposes and condemns HF 238, authored by Rep. Jim Nash, R-Waconia, and its companion Senate bill SF 292 (Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point) These bills would eliminate the duty under Minnesota law to retreat where possible before resorting to deadly force, amounting in practice to "kill-at-will."

Nash's house version of this bill is scheduled to be heard tomorrow before the Public Safety Committee. We request concerned citizens voice their opposition to HF 238 at the hearing Wednesday, March 8 at 10:15 am in Room 10 of the State Office Building and through contacting their representatives.

Leslie Redmond, Minneapolis NAACP Second Vice President, has repeatedly attempted to schedule meetings to communicate our grave safety concerns these bills would create. Meetings have repeatedly been put off and delayed until after Nash's house bill goes to committee. The NAACP was scheduled to meet with Senator Rudd and Representative Nash on Monday, March 6. However, on Thursday, March 2 we were notified that the meeting date needed to be rescheduled until a later date. To date, neither office notified us that there would be a hearing on Wednesday, March 8.

These bills would not help prevent crime, as is misleadingly claimed; Minnesota already has a fully sufficient self-defense clause. Rather, they pose a serious threat to public safety because routine disagreements will more often escalate into deadly shootouts. Comprehensive statistical studies have conclusively established that states with so-called “stand your ground” legislation see increased homicides, not decreased homicides, compared to states without such legislation. For example, in Florida the rate of homicide by firearms increased by a staggering 32% in the decade following implementation of its stand your ground law.

When Minneapolis NAACP President Jason Sole recently spoke with Rep. Nash, Nash expressed that he truly believes his bill has no racial implications. Is he unaware of the history of vigilante violence targeting black citizens and communities? Does he not know that in Florida, individuals claiming stand your ground were more likely to avoid facing criminal charges when their victim was black? Feb. 26 marked the five year anniversary of the killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin. We don’t need more George Zimmermans here.

Law enforcement went on record against the 2012 attempt by Republicans to push this legislation. As current Metro Transit Police Chief Harrington said, “The biggest departments with the most urban crime were adamant that this put officers in danger.” The Minnesota County Attorneys Association opposed that previous version and opposes this present attempt. Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan expressed his concerns about the danger if HF 238 were to become law in Minnesota: “Now we've just got people running around with guns, and if they feel threatened, they get to shoot people.”

Minnesota legislators should focus on addressing health care, the budget, racial equity gaps, and our economy, not on pushing special-interest-backed bills that threaten public safety. We stand against HF 238.

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