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What do Missouri and George Zimmerman Have in Common?

May 17, 2016

You may have read last week that the man who killed Trayvon Martin in Florida attempted to auction the gun he used to kill Trayvon. What got less attention – but has arguably even more significant consequence – was that late on Friday, the Missouri legislature passed SB 656, a Stand Your Ground bill just like the one that let Trayvon’s killer walk free in Florida.

In response to the auction, Lucy McBath, mother of Jordan Davis who was killed in November 2012 at a Florida gas station during an argument over loud music and whose killer used Stand Your Ground as part of his defense, penned this oped for the New York Daily News exposing how both the auction of the firearm that killed Trayvon and NRA-backed Stand Your Ground laws (and the legislators who vote for them) share the same deplorable lack of value for human life.

Stand Your Ground laws make communities less safe by letting people shoot to kill in public places, even when they can clearly and safely walk away from danger. And now Missouri is on the verge of becoming the first state to pass a new Stand Your Ground law since Trayvon was killed.

The research on how Stand Your Ground laws endanger public safety and in particular, disproportionately affect African Americans, is clear:

The research on how Stand Your Ground laws endanger public safety and in particular, disproportionately affect African Americans, is clear:

  • Everytown for Gun Safety found that states with Stand Your Ground laws have, on average, experienced a 53 percent increase in homicides deemed justifiable in the years following passage of the law, compared with a five percent decrease in states without Stand Your Ground statutes during the same period—an increase disproportionately borne by the black community. And after Florida passed its Stand Your Ground law, its “justifiable homicide” rate tripled.
  • A 2012 study by researchers at Texas A&M found that Stand Your Ground laws are associated with an increase in homicides, resulting in 600 more homicides nationwide each year.
  • The Urban Institute also examined racial disparities in justified gun homicide rulings that involve a single shooter and victim who are strangers. The researchers found that when white shooters kill black victims, 34 percent of the resulting homicides are deemed justifiable, while only 3.3 percent of deaths are ruled justifiable when the shooter is black and the victim is white.

Beyond all of that, Missouri’s SB 656 would also dismantle the state’s concealed carry permit requirement and allow people—including some violent criminals—to legally carry hidden, loaded handguns in public without a permit or any safety training. Missouri legislators passed this despite opposition from 76% of Missourians.

These are all reasons why hundreds of volunteers with the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown for Gun Safety, have made phone calls, sent emails, met with their lawmakers and testified to defeat SB 656.

The bill heads to the Governor’s desk next – but it’s not too late to shine a light on the dangers posed to Missouri’s communities by SB 656.

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