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South Dakota Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Criticize Senate Passage of Bill to Expand Dangerous ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law

March 8, 2021

The South Dakota chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, the grassroots networks of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the South Dakota Senate voted in favor of HB 1212, a bill to expand the state’s already dangerous so-called “Stand Your Ground” law. 

Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee soundly defeated HB 1212. Shortly after the defeat,  the Senate convened and managed to bring back HB 1212 using the controversial “smoke out” rule, which allows legislators to force committees to deliver failed bills to the chamber floor if they can secure the support of one-third of the chamber’s members.

“South Dakota’s so-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is already dangerous, and there is no reason to expand it and put public safety at further risk,” said Shannon Emry, a volunteer with the South Dakota chapter of Moms Demand Action. “As the Senate Judiciary Committee recognized, this bill would encourage more people to shoot first and ask questions later. Shooting to kill even when you can clearly and safely walk away from danger is not self-defense, it’s violence. We are extremely disappointed that the legislature chose to advance this bill and will carry our fight against this reckless proposal all the way to the governor’s desk.”

Moms Demand Action volunteers testified against HB 1212 and made phone calls to lawmakers urging them to reject this bill. 

What to know about House Bill 1212 and so-called “Stand Your Ground”:

  • South Dakota already has self-defense laws that allow people to defend themselves in dangerous situations. HB 1212 would dramatically expand South Dakota’s already-dangerous “Stand Your Ground” law, making it one of the broadest in the United States.
  • South Dakota’s current “Stand Your Ground” law already allows civilians in public places to shoot to kill, even when there is a clear and safe alternative to violence. HB 1212 would make this dangerous law even worse, including by:
    • Allowing people to shoot to kill even in situations that do not otherwise present a threat to the safety of any person;
    • Affording both criminal and civil immunity to shooters who successfully claim self-defense closing the courthouse doors to survivors of gun violence and further eroding the ability of affected communities to seek justice.
  • “Stand Your Ground” laws are associated with increases in homicide rates resulting in more than 150 additional gun deaths each month in the U.S. overall. “Stand Your Ground” laws are also associated with an increase in firearm injuries resulting in emergency room visits and hospitalizations. 
  • So-called “Stand Your Ground” laws are inherently dangerous for everyone, but they have a particularly harmful impact on people of color. In Stand Your Ground states, homicides in which white shooters kill Black victims are deemed justifiable five times more frequently than when the situation is reversed. 
  • More information about “Stand Your Ground” laws is available here.

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