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July 23, 2013

Stand Your Ground? Verdict re-opens debate over Oklahoma law

(Continued)

Oklahoma City —

He said Stand Your Ground laws make it harder for law enforcement authorities to enforce criminal statutes and sometimes allows offenders to go free.

“In some cases it emboldens people to engage in acts of violence that they otherwise would not do,” Lowy said. “There’s no question that George Zimmerman should not have gotten out of his car that night and should not have followed Trayvon Martin. The reason he did is that he had a loaded gun that night and was willing to use it.”

The executive director of the Oklahoma Rifle Association, which supports Stand Your Ground, said the shooting in Florida should not be used as an excuse to roll back self-defense rights.

“I’m biased I guess,” said Charles Smith of Yukon. “But we’ve heard all this slogan about ‘Justice for Trayvon.’ Well, Trayvon got justice. This is not about justice This is about retribution.”

Smith, whose 1,500-member organization has been Oklahoma’s National Rifle Association affiliate since 1927, said Stand Your Ground is a vital state law that spells out important self-defense rights and reinforces the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. He said he doubts the Legislature would seriously consider its repeal.

“I think our legislators are much too wise to go there,” he said.

It’s been seven years since the Oklahoma Legislature passed a measure that expanded a person’s right to use deadly force to defense themselves and a state lawmaker says it’s time to re-open public dialogue about the Stand Your Ground law following George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Florida.

Rep. Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City stops short of saying he wants to repeal the law. He says he will work with gun advocates and those who oppose the expansion of gun rights.

But a legislative supporter of Stand Your Ground, Rep. Steve Vaughn Ponca City, says Shelton may be standing alone. Vaughn says there is no legislative support for watering down self-defense rights.

More than 30 other states have laws similar to Oklahoma’s.

 

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