It’s this basic: Minnesotans don’t need additional state laws to defend themselves with firearms. Current law already allows the use of guns for self-defense within reasonable legal limits.
That’s why legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton should not allow a so-called “Stand Your Ground” measure to advance this year or next year. Last week, House members gave a second hearing to a bill that would broaden immunity for those who shoot someone because they feel threatened.
The proposal would expand the current rights to use deadly force in self-defense or in defense of one’s home. Supporters say it is a logical extension of current law and would solidify gun owners’ confidence that they won’t be prosecuted for defending themselves when threatened.
Therein lies the issue: Defining a threat can be subjective. Some gun owners may feel nervous because of the way another person is dressed. Others might find members of a different race, culture or religion threatening.
Opponents of the bill more accurately refer to it as a “shoot first” provision. It would give a person more latitude to use a gun even when there is not a threat of bodily harm. Shooting or killing someone over the theft of a car, bicycle or lawn mower will not make Minnesota safer. The only reasonable rationale is self-defense in protecting life and limb.
The list of various groups that oppose the proposed legislation is long and persuasive. Visiting nurses and home health organizations, for example, object because their members could be targets when they go to new clients’ homes to do their jobs. Other opponents include gun violence-prevention groups like Protect Minnesota and Everytown for Gun Safety.
Most notably, they are joined by law enforcement groups including the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the state association of county attorneys.
Fortunately, another proposal to loosen gun laws didn’t make it out of committee. That equally bad legislation would have eliminated the safety training and permit requirement for citizens to carry guns. Neither that bill nor the “Stand Your Ground” changes deserve any additional attention from the Legislature.