COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Stand your ground; it’s been a controversial topic since the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Several states have ‘stand your ground’ or self-defense legislation including South Carolina. There is a proposal that would help strengthen those laws and provide more protection if you need to protect yourself or property.
A Charleston lawmaker pre-filed a bill last week to clarify language in the state’s stand your ground law.
“Right now, there are certain situations where it is ok to use deadly force the law says you can stand your ground,” said Representative Mandy Kimmons, who wants to clarify language in stand your ground law.
The state’s law provides immunity if a person uses deadly force to suppress a threat. But vagueness in the law’s language creates a discrepancy in when the law applies. So, Rep. Kimmons wants to make sure that even if you don’t use that force you still have protection under the law.
“If someone is carjacking me and I pull out a gun and I shoot them, then I get immunity. But if I pull out the gun and they run the other direction; I don’t have immunity – that doesn’t make sense to me. you ought not to have to shoot someone to get the benefit of the immunity,” she said.
But anti-gun violence groups have some concerns with stand your ground legislation.
Moms Demand Action advocates for what the group calls common-sense gun laws. Members fear legislation like the stand your ground can lead to different interpretations of what self-defense is.
“When a white person who kills somebody, and a black person, and both claim the stand ground your offense, the white person is 11 times more likely than the black person to be acquitted. So, there is racial bias and stand your ground laws are more dangerous for people of color,” said Patty Tuttle with Moms Demand Action of the Midlands.
Lawmakers will return here to the State House in January for the 2020 legislative session.
In South Carolina, stand your ground protections apply if someone is unlawfully entering a property or presents a threat of great bodily harm. It does not apply to the use of force against or law enforcement officers or force used during the unlawful activity.