Stop Reactive Gun Owners From Endangering More Young Lives

Target: Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas

Goal: Change standards for permitted use of force to prevent more senseless shootings.

A knock on the wrong door, a turn into the wrong driveway, entrance into the wrong car, and a basketball landing in the wrong yard: these common mistakes play out every day across America. Yet in the span of one week, such innocent errors cost or nearly cost several young people their lives. The victims ranged in age from six to twenty-something. And the incidents spanned from Texas to North Carolina to Missouri to New York. Yet they all shared one common factor: dangerous gun violence. And in over half of states, such deadly actions are often protected by law.

In so-called Stand Your Ground or Castle Doctrine laws, an individual is legally permitted to use lethal force if they are reasonably in fear for their lives and even if they have an opportunity to safely retreat. The problem: what is “reasonable fear” to one person can differ dramatically from “reasonable fear” to another person. For an individual who sees a threat around every corner, a knock at the door or a rogue basketball could signal danger. In some of these state laws, people are even permitted to take aim at someone who is outside of their property.

Such laws first came under intense scrutiny when one was used in Florida to acquit George Zimmerman of fatally shooting an unarmed Trayvon Martin. And statistics since then show a ten percent rise in deadly shootings in states where some version of this law is enacted. For minorities, the statistics are even more bleak, as someone who is white and uses this defense against a minority is ten times more likely to be cleared of any criminal charges.

In the wake of these recent troubling incidents, advocates are once again calling for a reevaluation of a practice they condemn as authorization of violence and legalized murder. Sign the petition below to demand state leaders answer this call.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Abbott,

Texas was recently the site of one of a number of reported shootings of individuals who made harmless mistakes. In the Texas case, a cheerleader briefly entered the wrong vehicle one night. When she attempted to apologize to the person in the car, she was allegedly shot.

Similar troubling incidents have refocused attention on Stand Your Ground laws: a legal principle that is reportedly being considered to give a convicted killer in Texas a pardon. Rather than pursuing this objective and other initiatives such as denying credit card companies the right to enact gun merchant codes, this state should finally set a different standard: a standard that prioritizes lives over a Wild West mentality where any shooting goes. Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws do not prevent tragedy. In fact, research suggests they heighten homicide rates by ten percent.

As the state with the strongest Stand Your Ground law, you are creating a dangerous and deadly template. Rethink this principle and advocate for reforms and repeals that truly will save innocent lives.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Kindel Media


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