State Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, has introduced a bill that would repeal South Carolina’s “Stand Your Ground” law. The bill is backed by 17 co-sponsors and has the support of several ministers and former law enforcement officials, according to South Carolina’s The State website.
Mitchell is chairman of the State Legislative Black Caucus and says the time to review “Stand Your Ground” laws has come in the state. He argues that the law, as it is written in South Carolina, leads to unnecessary deaths.
“‘Stand Your Ground’ is ‘last man standing,’” Mitchell said. "What we want to do is go back and protect people in their homes, their vehicles and their place of business."
The Rock Hill Herald recently published an op-ed supporting the bill.
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“South Carolinians have long had the right to defend themselves during a home invasion,” the piece argues. "They also have a right to defend themselves anywhere they feel their lives have been threatened as long as they make a reasonable effort to flee or evade the threat first."
At issue, then, is a piece of legislation from 2006, known as the Protection of Persons and Property Act, that allows a person in any place “where he has a right to be” to legally stand his ground. The bill reads that such a person can “meet force with force, including deadly force,” without the obligation to try and flee first. That law also goes beyond “Stand Your Ground” laws in other states, in that it allows a person to use deadly force to protect others.
“Stand Your Ground” laws have come under criticism recently, following the well-known Trayvon Martin case in Florida. Martin was killed by George Zimmerman after Zimmerman followed Martin through his neighborhood. Martin was returning home from a late-night trip to a convenience store. Zimmerman was later found not guilty of murder based on a “Stand Your Ground” defense.
Mitchell’s bill would still allow residents to use deadly force to protect their homes, vehicles or businesses, but it prevents the controversial legal defense for those who kill someone in a public place and later claim they used deadly force because they feared for their lives.
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The bill is likely to meet stiff opposition in a legislature that just passed a law allowing people to carry guns into bars and restaurants.
The Rock Hill Herald and other supporters of the bill hope its proposal will, at least, prompt a closer look at the state’s current laws.