Testimony for Senate Judiciary Hearing Highlights Shoot First, Ask Later Mentality | Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

Testimony for Senate Judiciary Hearing Highlights Shoot First, Ask Later Mentality

For Immediate Release - October 29, 2013 - Contact: media [at] bradynetwork [dot] org

“Stand Your Ground,” Lax Concealed Carry Laws Change Intent of Criminal Justice System, According to Brady Center

Washington, DC—The recent enactment of “Stand Your Ground” and “shall issue” concealed carry laws has turned the intent of the criminal justice system on its head and put American lives at risk, according to testimony submitted by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.   

The criminal justice system is intended to discourage violent interactions and punish those who unnecessarily kill or injure others.  The passing of “Stand Your Ground” laws, coupled with a change in concealed carry laws, has distorted the criminal justice system’s intent, according to the testimony.  

“Before ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, criminal law included the time-honored concepts of self-defense and justification that allowed people to reasonably defend themselves, but also required people to take reasonable measures to avoid conflict,” said the Director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project, Jonathan Lowy, in prepared testimony.  “Now ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, especially when combined with lax ‘shall issue’ concealed firearm carrying laws, can encourage violent interactions, make Americans less safe, and make it more difficult to bring justice to those who wrongfully injure or kill,” added Lowy.   

“If it were not for Florida’s relaxed concealed carry laws, Trayvon Martin would likely be alive today,” wrote Lowy.   “Stand Your Ground laws should be examined in the context of [concealed] carry laws that authorized [George] Zimmerman to carry a loaded gun.” 

Stand Your Ground laws radically expand self-defense law to give individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without any requirement to evade or retreat from a dangerous situation.  The NRA and ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, have been proponents of Stand Your Ground laws.

States’ “shall issue” concealed carry laws require state and local authorities to issue firearm licenses to individuals authorizing the carrying of a concealed firearm as long as the individuals meet certain minimal criteria. These laws are more relaxed than “may issue” laws, which allow law enforcement to deny permits to those individuals who cannot establish the good judgment or particular need to carry a concealed firearm. 

“As long as Stand Your Ground laws send a message that encourages people to shoot first and ask questions later, and lax concealed carry laws allow dangerous people to carry loaded hidden handguns in public, we can expect tragedies like Trayvon Martin’s,” concluded Lowy.

Read the full testimony here.

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The mission of the Brady organization is to create a safer America for all of us that will lead to the dramatic reduction in gun deaths and injuries that we all seek.

Dan Gross is the President of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. More information about Dan Gross is available here. 

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