ST. PAUL, Minn. — About 100 people from the legislature and various groups around the state gathered in the basement of the Capitol building to protest proposed Republican legislation that would implement stand your ground laws in the state of Minnesota.
Together they held signs that said, “Protect Minnesota – working together to prevent gun violence.”
“This bill poses a risk a risk to people of color, to those who look different, and seem scary to some,” Sen. John Marty (D-Roseville) said Wednesday. “We do not need a death penalty for minor offenses.”
Lawmakers, leaders of groups, and religious organizations repeatedly referred to examples involving children when speaking about the potential group at risk if the proposed legislation is passed. “Kids whose frisbee goes over the wrong fence is at risk,” Marty told the crowd.
The legislation proposed, H.F. 238, has many Republican co-authors and is considered a standard stand your ground law. Similar legislation has been implemented around the country.
As Alpha News reported in March, Republicans were quick to defend the bill stating that people should try to escape if they find themselves in a dangerous situation, but if there is no other option, deadly force can be used.
However, Asad Zampan, Executive Director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota shared his concern with a specific piece of the legislation that removes a section of current law which states,
“The intentional taking of the life of another is not authorized by section 609.06, except when necessary in resisting or preventing an offense which the actor reasonably believes exposes the actor or another to great bodily harm or death, or preventing the commission of a felony in the actor’s place of abode.”
Rep. David Pinto (D-St. Paul), who is also a Ramsey County Prosecutor said, “There are many scenarios that we can reference that would not hold people accountable in case of deadly force.” Pinto discussed proposed legislation that he’s authored which would require background checks for the transfers of guns between owners.
“There are so many other things that we should be talking about and this sure is not one of them,” Pastor Brian Herron Sr. of Zion Baptist said. “America, for too long has had a love affair with guns.”
Carin Mrtoz, Executive Director of Jewish Community Action told the crowd, “Many of those in favor of the law speak of it benefiting our [the Jewish] community, but laws like this will not make my community safer.”
“This is being proposed by people who claim to be pro-life,” Imam Asad Zampan, the Executive Director of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota told the crowd. “I want to know how anyone who is pro-life could be in favor of deleting a section of law that says, the intentional taking of life of another is not authorized.”
Rob Doar, Vice President and Political Director for the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus disagrees with the negativity surrounding stand your ground laws.
“The burden is on the victim to prove that they did not have a reasonable means of retreat, rather than the more standard practice elsewhere in criminal law that an individuals actions are presumed lawful until proved otherwise,” Doar said. “We support HF 238 because it codifies the elements of self defense into the statute, providing the most protections to it citizens, and guidance to the courts.
The legislation was expected to be heard on the floor of the House on Wednesday, but Marty announced the legislation would not be heard on the floor after all.