Missouri Governor Vetoes Stand Your Ground Bill

SB656, a bill designed to change Missouri’s self-defense laws – and make Missouri the first state since the Trayvon Martin incident to pass a stand your ground law – was vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon today (June 27). After sailing through the state’s Senate and the House, the bill had been awaiting approval or veto by Nixon since May 13.

It is possible for a gubernatorial veto to be overridden by the state legislature.

SEE: Missouri (Almost) Becomes A Stand Your Ground State

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (official state portrait)

Nixon, a Democrat, faced enormous pressure from the Republican-led Missouri legislature to enact the law. The bill has been widely considered “veto-proof”; however, a bill which faces opposition by the Governor after passing through the legislature can be challenged with a veto override in the next legislative session, and still become law in the future.

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Missouri’s current self-defense laws state that only the property owner or someone leasing it are allowed to use deadly force against an intruder.

SB656 would have allowed deadly force to be used by anyone who has permission to occupy private property, such as a house guest, and also make it a misdemeanor, and no longer a felony, for anyone carrying a concealed weapon into a place that has restrictions on concealed carry.

The bill also would have allowed open-carry without a permit, and expanded the state’s self-defense laws to include the words “does not have a duty to retreat from a dwelling, residence, vehicle, private property that is owned or leased, or anywhere else a person has a right to be – the very definition of stand your ground law – making Missouri the first state since Trayvon Martin incident to pass such a law.

 

 

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What do Missouri and Trayvon Martin’s Killer Have in Common?

An online auction on the gun used to fatally shoot Trayvon Martin took place this week. Last week, the Missouri legislature passed SB 656, a stand your ground bill just like the one that let Trayvon Martin’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 (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:

  • 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 is now on the Governor’s desk.

Everytown for Gun Safety logo

Source: Everytown for Gun Safety/Moms Demand Action press release

Stand Your Ground Tweet Of The Month @endyourstand

 

 

I read the Declaration of Independence yesterday, just to refresh my memory, so it seems fitting today to debut a new featured post called “Tweet of the Month“, which will present some of the most thought-provoking, engaging interactions from our twittersphere every month. Wishing wish you and yours a happy, safe, Fourth of July, also!

End Stand Your Ground July 4th
End Stand Your Ground July 4th

Ex-Prison Guard Not Charged In Shocking Chase, Killing In New York Subway [Video]

Where is the line separating self-defense from vigilantism?

New York is not a “stand your ground” state, meaning that a person has a duty to retreat from a threat if possible, before using deadly force. But this story proves you can still chase after and kill an unarmed person in a crowded subway station and get away with it, in a public shooting that is shocking, even by New York standards.

On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 electricians Gilbert Drogheo, 32 and Joscelyn Evering, 28, were headed home from work, strapping on a crowded subway to Brooklyn. As 69 year-old Willie Groomes, an ex-prison guard (who retired in 1993) with a gun permit, tried to walk between the pair to get on the subway, one of the younger men addressed him with the slang, “my nigger,” according to reports. Groomes replied, “I’m not your nigger.”

“They (Drogheo and Evering) were talking mad trash,” a witness reportedly said. “They must have been drunk.” Other witnesses said Drogheo raised his fist, threatening to “smoke” Groomes before Evering jumped Groomes (something Evering denied). Groomes pulled out a .380 Ruger handgun to try to fight him off. At least one witness reportedly saw Drogheo push Groomes back into the train as the two friends exited to get away. Neither Drogheo nor Evering is reported to have been armed.

Gilbert Drogheo
Gilbert Drogheo, 28, was shot and killed in a New York subway station on March 10, 2015

Groomes went after Drogheo, later claiming he wanted to make a “citizens’ arrest”. A three minute witness’ cellphone video shows the ensuing confrontation. Groomes is first seen on the video in the station, apparently after exiting the subway, walking swiftly down stairs, toward someone who is shouting at him on the lower stairs, and, as Groomes advances, he can be heard saying “Where you gonna go” to the younger man, who runs when Groomes gets to bottom of the stairs.

During the encounter, someone can be heard shouting repeatedly, “Don’t shoot him, O.G., don’t shoot him”. Groomes stops, looks up, turns, and heads back up the stairs, where, 25 seconds into the video, Groomes goes at Drogheo landing a left fist to the temple and holding a gun in the right hand. Drogheo reels from the blow, then struggles with Groomes over the gun before being shot. Witnesses scramble and a man who appears to be Evering approaches the wounded Drogheo, kneeling over and calling out mournfully to him as police arrive. Evering is arrested. Drogheo died later that evening at a hospital.

On May 4th, Brooklyn District Ken Thompson announced there wasn’t enough evidence to prove a crime was committed.

Thompson issued a statement that read, “Following a full and fair investigation…I have determined that criminal charges are not warranted in this matter. Based on interviews of multiple eyewitnesses to the events leading up to the shooting, our review of video tapes of the shooting itself and other evidence, I have decided not to put this case into the grand jury and will not bring criminal charges against Mr. Groomes. While the death of this young man was indeed tragic, we cannot prove any charge of homicide beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Prosecutors claim a second video shows that Groomes had given up trying to track down Drogheo, but they ran into each other again, when they claim Drogheo initiated a struggle that resulted in an “accidental discharge” of the weapon. This shocking cellphone video below seems to contradict that contention.

New York state self-defense laws allow a citizen to use physical force, “other than deadly physical force” when “he or she reasonably believes such to be necessary to effect an arrest or to prevent the escape from custody of a person” who may have committed a crime. A citizen can use deadly physical force only when defending against “imminent use of deadly physical force,” or when it is necessary to detain a person who was committed manslaughter, murder, robbery, forcible rape, or forcible criminal sexual act.

Gregg Pinto, a former Brooklyn assistant district attorney, told Gawker the reason Groomes was not arrested has little to do with self-defense or anything else about the conflict itself. “I can’t imagine that if this guy didn’t have a badge, he wouldn’t have been arrested,” Pinto. “In my opinion, NYPD is arrest first, ask questions later. The only time you don’t arrest is if the person is somehow connected to the police.”

In 1984, New Yorker Bernie Goetz made national headlines when he shot four black teenagers who were trying to mug him. He was arrested but later acquitted of attempted murder.

No one disputes the fact that Drogheo and his friend initiated the confrontation. Yet Groomes could have simply called the cops, or not followed the two younger men. He has not been charged or arrested. Evering was arrested at the scene, charged with menacing and felony assault. Drogheo’s family wants and deserves justice and have started a petition to get District Attorney Ken Thompson to charge Groomes with murder.

Was Groomes justified? What do you think he should have done? Leave your comments.

What’s your opinion of stand your ground law?

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Pooping By Dog Leads To Father’s Day Shooting

A Miami man, upset over a dog trying to poop on his son’s lawn, told police he shot the dog owner on Father’s Day because he felt threatened.

UPDATE: Knife found at scene contained no DNA from the victim

66-year-old Omar Rodriguez had a verbal altercation with Jose “Pepe” Rey, and Rodriguez claimed Rey had said he would return. Later, it’s reported that, as Rey was talking with other neighbors at a gathering, Rodriguez appeared. Rodriguez told police he saw Rey move toward him, with some type of “shiny object” in his hand, so he went to his car, got his gun, then opened fire, shooting Rey multiple times. He also threatened to shoot Rey’s wife, Lissy, when she ran to help her husband.

Jose "Pepe" Rey
Jose “Pepe” Rey was shot multiple times during a dispute over a dog trying to poop

Rey is last reported to be in critical condition, with severe abdominal and spinal injuries. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Rey family with medical expenses.

Rodriguez was arrested and faces charges of second-degree attempted murder and aggravated assault. At his arraignment on June 23, a judge denied bond, citing police reports that state Rey had his hands out and was backing up when he was shot.

Omar Rodriguez
Omar Rodriguez appears for arraignment June 23, 2015

Neighbors of Rodriguez’ son and his own neighbors – miles away – all reportedly described Rodriguez as unstable, saying he has allegedly threatened people in his son’s neighborhood as well as his own. Several frightened people in his son’s neighborhood have reportedly filed restraining orders to keep him away, and police have released surveillance camera footage that shows Rodriguez engaged in some mischief and altercations involving neighbors.

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Change Or Repeal: A New Cyber-Active Movement

It’s been over a year since this non-partisan movement to End Stand Your Ground was cyber-active. Apologies to all of you who were faithful readers from the start.

Maybe the hiatus was partly due to a countless overdose of possible stand your ground cases (still trying to catch up on many incidents over the past year), or writer’s block, or so little time while working a job to make a living. Whatever the reason, there’s a lot of catching up to do here (almost done seeping through thousands of emails).Bruce Almighty typing

Now the fight goes on – appropriately starting again on National Gun Violence Awareness Day – with several new, subtle (but unmistakably obvious) changes, which should improve the clarity, awareness, support, and user experience of this network.

The new, biggest change you may notice is that the tag is now ‘to change or repeal’ stand-your-ground laws across America. This was necessary, since basically, if certain states change their ideology and remove the ‘no duty to retreat from anywhere” option, repeal may be unnecessary.

And this movement is not focused on gun control. It’s more about an ideology for saving the lives of unarmed people, whether or not they’re at fault.

Another change is the use of “cyber-movement”, since this activism is taking place primarily via the internet. This should also serve as a reminder to everyone that there is strength in internet users, so your support, participation and involvement – by signup for this blog, a follow on twitter, a like on the ESYG facebook page, comments, and by joining a discussion – is important! You’ll also find this movement has a footprint in many other cyber-places, including YouTubetumblr, Scoop.It, Pinterest, and Google+.

Finally, if you really want to help in an absolutely awesome way, a donation through Paypal would be the ultimate form of support! Expect an improved experience, with updates on all things concerning stand-your-ground and stand your ground laws. Hang on in here for the ride.

In Memory Of Trayvon Martin Feb 5, 1995 – Feb 26, 2012

In Memory Of Trayvon Martin (Feb 5, 1995 – Feb 26, 2012), a video by Diego Rodriguz found on YouTube, with a montage of sometimes familiar, touching photos of Trayvon Martin, offers a poignant memorial to the African-American teenager whose death on February 26, 2012 opened widespread, heated debate on race and gun rights in America.

As his killer continues to be a free man, we do hope Trayvon may rest in peace, yet that may not happen until the battle is won to change or repeal stand your ground laws.

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Rev. Al Sharpton Leads Florida March Against Stand Your Ground

(UPDATED) Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network will be joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, and Attorney Benjamin Crump as they lead a march through Tallahassee on March 10th calling for a repeal of “Stand Your Ground’ laws in Florida.

Nation Action Network Stand Your Ground Rally

Participants are asked to arrive by 9:00 a.m. for the march, which starts at 9:30 a.m. from the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center, 505 W. Pensacola St., and ends at the State Capitol at 400 S. Monroe St.

A rally at the State Capitol will immediately follow the march.

Last week, Sharpton joined many others in decrying the verdict in the Michael Dunn trial. In a statement, Sharpton said, “The mistrial further sends a chilling effect to parents in the twenty-three states that have the stand your ground law or laws similar. It requires the civil rights community to head into Florida, which is now ground zero for a national fight to change that law.”

[UPDATE: March 7, 2014 – Overflow parking will be in the city parking lot at the southeast corner of South Bronough and West Madison Streets.  The lot is accessible from South Bronough Street.The rally after the march will be at Walter Park, on the west side of the Capitol building.]

Stand Your Ground Protesters Arrested In Georgia

Moral Monday Georgia Stand Your Ground Protesters
Moral Monday Georgia protesters demonstrating against the state’s stand your ground law were arrested February 10. 2014. (photo credit: Max Blau)

About 23 people protesting Georgia’s stand your ground law in a demonstration by the Moral Monday activism movement were arrested in the office of State Senator Jesse Stone (R-Waynesboro) at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building in Atlanta Monday.

Senator Stone is the chairman of the state Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee. The group wanted to meet with the lawmaker about his handling of SB 280, a bill introduced by Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) to repeal the Georgia stand your ground law. Georgia’s self-defense laws contain a “no duty to retreat” statute enacted in 2006.

Stone’s staff told the protesters that the Senator would meet with only two representatives of the group – without cameras – but the protesters wanted the lawmaker to come out and speak with them all as a group, so the demonstration started, with members singing and holding signs.

Soon after, state troopers arrived. Some demonstrators left, but those who remained were handcuffed and arrested.

Later, Stone told reporters that the Moral Monday group was “disrespectful” because they didn’t schedule an appointment, then turned down his offer of meeting with only two members.

Ten members of the movement, including Senator Fort, were arrested two weeks ago in a Moral Monday demonstration against Governor Nathan Deal’s opposition to expanding Medicaid for the poor.

Moral Monday held a rally against stand your ground last Monday, and Fort said a hearing on SB 280 held last Wednesday was “cut short” by Stone. Fort is waiting to reschedule the hearing.

Although Fort had called for a “full and fair hearing”, he has said the hearing last week was “not full nor fair.” He called Stone’s handling of the hearing “disrespectful”.

Petitions Against Stand Your Ground Reach Over 500,000 Names

UPDATED June 26, 2016

Since the Trayvon Martin shooting over 500,000 names have been added to online petitions calling for a review, change, or end to stand your ground laws, and over 80% of that number come from a petition started by Martin’s parents.

Although activism against the law has dropped dramatically, public sentiment against stand your ground law appears steady, sometimes refueled by news of homicides involving the possibility of stand your ground laws being invoked.

sign petitions against stand your ground laws

Popular internet petition sites like Change.org, credoaction, and MoveOn contain most of the requests, which call for change or repeal of stand your ground law or Florida boycotts.

Change For Trayvon“, a petition on Change.org, calls for the Governors of 21 states to review and amend stand your ground laws. This petition was started in 2012 by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin (parents of Trayvon Martin) and appeared to have had the most signers in February, 2014 – 427,605 – with a goal of 500,000 (In August, 2013, there were 383,844).

 

 

One petition on ColorOfChange.org, calling for an end to “Shoot First” laws had collected 46,890 by August, 2013. And another, to repeal stand your ground laws across America – started by Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense – had 26,547 signees in August, 2013 and 30,000 in February, 2014.

Moral Mondays activism, accompanied by news of stand your ground incidents in 2013, helped the names on a petition to repeal stand your ground in Georgia soar from 384 in August, 2013 to over 8400 in February, 2014.

Several other petitions have closed after reaching their goals or becoming ineffective, such as one asking Florida to review the laws, or calling for repeal and another to repeal Florida’s stand your ground law, which had a goal of 10,000 and closed at about 16,000.

Here’s an updated list of over a dozen active online petitions against stand your ground laws. Links to inactive or closed petitions have been removed (Happy Signing!)

Inactive or closed petitions:

  • No More Stand Your Ground(thepetitionsite.com)
  • Repeal Stand Your Ground laws (Sojo.com)
  • Petitions to Dept of Justice to repeal Stand Your Ground laws in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina (petitiondemocracy.com)
  • Impact petition for state legislators to review all Stand Your Ground laws (Change.org)

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A Million Hoodies Call For Music Turned Up For Jordan Davis

The Million Hoodies Movement For Justice is calling for a Day of Action to turn the music up throughout America on February 16, the birthday of Jordan Davis, gunned down after an argument over loud music by Michael Dunn, whose trial began this week.

Jacksonville, Florida Mayor Alvin Brown has proclaimed February 16 as Jordan Russell Davis Day.

The National Day of Action includes turning radios all the way up, mobilizing across the country, and signing a petition calling for Justice for Jordan Davis.

The movement is using the twitter hashtag #MusicUp4JD to promote the Day of Action., and participants can RSVP to the Hoodies.million hoodies logo

Million Hoodies is an award-winning activism movement started in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting. The group reports over 50,000 members, and helped generate global support for the arrest of George Zimmerman after he was not immediately charged in the shooting.

The group is trying to recruit local chapter organizers across the country. For more information go to the Million Hoodies website.

Rally To End Stand Your Ground In Georgia

Moral Monday Georgia is staging a rally against stand your ground law in Georgia at the state capitol in Atlanta at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow – Monday, February 3, to gain support against SB 280, a bill to repeal Georgia’s stand your ground law.

Georgia rally against stand your ground law

Moral Monday Georgia is a grassroots social justice group modeled after protest groups in North Carolina. Moral Monday protests are characterized by engaging in civil disobedience by entering the state legislature building and then being peacefully arrested. The protests are generally partisan against Republican actions.

Senator Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) and nine other people were arrested last Monday inside Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s office and charged with obstruction and criminal trespassing while protesting the governor’s opposition to expansion of Medicaid programs for the poor.

The rally tomorrow precedes a hearing on Wednesday, February 5, in the Georgia House on a bill introduced by Senator Fort to repeal the Georgia stand your ground law.

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