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.

RELATED: 

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.

 

 

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

Missouri (Almost) Becomes A Stand Your Ground State

UPDATED: June 27, 2016 (This post was originally published as “Missouri Becomes A Stand Your Ground State”. The title has been changed to accommodate a veto on June 27, 2016, by Governor Jay Nixon.)

SEE: Missouri Governor Vetoes Stand Your Ground Bill

Democrats filibustered and put up a bold, powerful fight against SB656, a bill that will make Missouri the first since the Trayvon Martin case to become a stand your ground state. In the end, after a Senate vote of 28-8, the bill passed through the House with a vote of 114-36, disappointing many opponents. With the Senate majority vote, the bill cannot be vetoed by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon.*

RELATED: Kurt Schaefer Pushes For Stand Your Ground In Missouri

SB656 changes several things in Missouri’s laws on self-defense, use of weapons, and concealed carry. The laws already included a castle doctrine, which covers protection of home & property.

Stand your ground was added under the unlawful use of weapons portion of the bill, when words were changed to state that now a person 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, as long as that person is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and not unlawfully entering or unlawfully remaining.

 

Missouri Capitol
Missouri Capitol (Image: Missouri Senate website)

 

Here are some other key points in the legislation:

SELF DEFENSE

The act provides that any unexpended funds in a Sheriff’s Revolving Fund, which usually accumulate from year to year, will no longer be required to remain in the fund, and now may be used for other purposes or transferred to discretionary funds for the sheriffs.

The law will now allow deadly force to be used by anyone who has permission to occupy private property, such as a house guest. Previously it applied only to the property owner or someone leasing it.

UNLAWFUL USE OF WEAPONS

It’s will now be only a misdemeanor, and no longer a felony, to carry a concealed weapon into a place that has restrictions on concealed carry.

CONCEALED CARRY PERMIT FEES

Caps the CC permit fee at $100. Also provides options of a $500. lifetime fee rather than every five years; $200 to receive a Missouri extended concealed carry permit that is valid for 10 years or $250 for an extended permit that is valid for 25 years. To renew an extended permit, the permit holder must pay $50.

* It’s posssible for a gubernatorial veto to be overriden by a state legislarure.

 

Kurt Schaefer Pushes For Stand Your Ground In Missouri

 

UPDATED: May 15, 2016

As a rule, prosecutors don’t like so-called “stand your ground” gun laws — those that allow citizens to use lethal force in the face of a perceived threat without first attempting to retreat.

Kurt Schaefer, a Missouri senator vying to become the state’s top prosecutor, must have missed that memo…see full article

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

This is an excellent on-point article about a shameless, out-of-touch politician. As an example, he actually retweeted this:

KurtSchaeferTwitter

UPDATE: On the weekend after the Legislative Session closed, Schaefer also retweeted a tweet onto his twitter profile which advised voters to say “No to Kurt Schaefer.” How much more out of touch can a politician get?:

 

Man Claims Self-Defense In Killing Neighbor Over Imaginary Loud Music

Is loud music a tipping point for some people who may not like noise and have a gun? In a pre-Christmas shooting, a Missouri man is claiming self-defense after he reportedly put on a bullet-proof vest and murdered a neighbor who he thought was playing loud music no one else could hear.

Police in Maryland Heights, Missouri reported that 26 year-old James C. Blanton shot and killed 35 year-old Yi-Ping “Peter” Chang on the afternoon of December 13, when he knocked on Chang’s door complaining about “loud bass music”.

The 35-year-old Chang, a computer support specialist for an agrochemical company, was home watching a movie with his girlfriend at an apartment complex in the St. Louis suburb when Blanton knocked on the door complaining about loud music. There was an argument, then Blanton shot and killed Chang. He then sat outside Chang’s apartment and waited for police to arrive.

Blanton reportedly had a cooperative, justifying demeanor with police on the scene, telling them that he had killed Chang in self-defense, though police did not report if any other weapon was found. Blanton was being held on a $500,000 bond after being charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon.

James C. Blanton
James C. Blanton

Blanton had reportedly also complained other times to other neighbors about loud music, those interviewed by the St. Louis Post Dispatch say. Yet no one but Blanton could ever hear the “loud bass music” he complained about. “He’s gone to everyone’s apartment knocking about noise and music from time to time,” neighbor Kelly Miller told KMOV.

A police official said Blanton wanted Chang to ‘turn the bass down,’ but Chang wasn’t playing any loud music. It’s not known if the movie Chang and his girlfriend were watching could have been a source of any loud music.

Other incidents caused by real music have ended in tragedy. In 2010 46 year-old retired firefighter Raul Rodriguez complained about loud music coming from a children’s birthday party in Houston, told a police dispatcher he was “standing his ground” and fired a gun at a group of unarmed men, killing one and wounding two others. Rodriguez was convicted of murder, sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2013, then won a retrial after the conviction was overturned because of flaws in jury instructions. In November, 2015, he was convicted again.

Then, on Black Friday in 2012, 46 year-old Michael Dunn opened fire on a group of teenagers in an SUV during an argument over loud music in Jacksonville, Florida, killing 17 year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn claimed self-defense, but was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole. Dunn is currently appealing his sentence.