A state senator is proposing to expand the “stand your ground” law in Missouri.
Currently in Missouri, a person can use deadly force in self-defense when private property, like a home or car, is invaded.
The current self-defense format, known as “the castle doctrine”, has been a part of Missouri law since 2007.
“Stand your ground” rules would expand on “the castle doctrine”, and allow a person to use deadly force in self-defense without the duty of retreating, wherever they have a right to be in public, like a school, church, or sidewalk.
State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R – 19th District) is hoping to expand the rules, and he spoke to a senate panel on Wednesday about the possible change.
KC Mothers in Charge Executive Director Rosilyn Temple is against the idea of expanding the rules, and said it could lead to accidental deaths.
“If somebody tries to take my property, I should be able to protect myself. We have to be careful though," she said. “You look at me the wrong way, someone gets shot and killed. You step on my shoe, there goes a homicide."
Temple’s son was murdered in Kansas City. Since then, Temple has used her son’s death to raise awareness of gun violence in the city.
“We have unnecessary children being murdered in their own home where they should be safe," Temple said. “I lost my son because of a homicide. He was in his own apartment. I do not believe in the ‘stand your ground’ law."
Attorney Brandan Davies said the law could help keep people safe on the streets.
“It has to be a reasonable fear or a situation where you could prevent serious injury or death. Then you have the ability to exercise deadly force,” he said.
Opponents of “stand your ground” laws say the rules could lead to people using too much force and give them easy opportunities to kill people.
“The 'stand your ground' law isn't a license to go out and shoot anybody. It's not,” Davies said.
“Stand your ground” laws made headlines in 2012 after George Zimmerman’s legal team cited the rules to justify the killing of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
Kansas is one of 23 states that have “stand your ground” laws in place.
If leaders vote to enact the law, Missouri would be the first state to enact a “stand your ground” law since the Trayvon Martin case.
Tom Dempsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.