80th Annual Meeting


 

WHEREAS, as the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, has brought significant national attention to the proliferation so-called “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” laws in states, with 25 states having broad “shoot first” laws that allow the use of deadly force in self-defense outside the home with no duty to retreat;

WHEREAS, Florida’s law, enacted in 2005, allows a person to lethally shoot someone whenever they feel threatened, even if they could have safely walked away from the scene, as long as the shooter is in a place “he or she has a right to be;” and

WHEREAS, such “shoot first” laws, are an expansion of Castle Doctrine laws, which allow the use of force, including deadly force, for self-defense in one’s home, with the burden generally falling on the defendant to prove that his or her use of deadly force was reasonable; and

WHEREAS, “Shoot First” or “Stand Your Ground” laws expand the Castle Doctrine by presuming the use of deadly force was reasonable; placing the burden on a prosecutor to prove otherwise; expand the use of deadly force for self-defense beyond the home, including vehicles and – in many states – public places; permit the use of deadly force in more circumstances, including when there is no imminent danger; eliminate the duty to retreat before using deadly force, even if retreat can be accomplished safely; and immunize the shooter from criminal prosecution and civil liability;

WHEREAS, this expansion violates the principles of the Castle Doctrine, which dates back to English Common Law, that guided the American colonies and the Founding Fathers, and stands for the principle  for the inviolate place of refuge that is the home, and should be reversed; and

WHEREAS,  according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data, justifiable homicide cases have increased significantly – in some cases by more 100 percent – in several states in the years after they passed “shoot first” laws; and

WHEREAS,  the American Legislative Exchange Council based its model legislation on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and, until recently used that model legislation to encourage state legislatures to adopt stand your ground laws; and

WHEREAS, the National Rifle Association continues to encourage state legislatures to adopt “stand your ground” legislation, issuing a statement May, 2012 that “ The National Rifle Association always has and always will advocate the passage and preservation of self-defense laws;” and

WHEREAS,  on April 11, 2012,New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, leaders of national African-American organizations and others announced a new national grassroots campaign, “Second Chance on Shoot First,” to repeal or reform the Florida-style “shoot first” laws that have passed in 25 states by focusing on convincing state legislators who have supported shoot first laws to join the growing movement to reform or repeal these dangerous laws; and

WHEREAS,  despite a history of violent behavior, the alleged shooter of Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, has a valid permit to carry a hidden, loaded gun, and Florida state officials had no authority to revoke or suspend it, either before or after the shooting occurred; and

WHEREAS, unlike Florida, at least 24 states give police discretion to deny a concealed carry permit if the applicant has an arrest record or pattern of violent behavior that indicates that he or she would be a safety threat to others; and

WHEREAS, just days after Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, legislation was introduced in the Senate that would allow George Zimmerman, and others like him, to carry hidden, loaded guns nationwide by forcing each state to honor concealed carry permits from every other state, even if the permit holder would otherwise not be allowed to carry or even possess a gun in the state where he or she is traveling,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors registers its strong opposition to “Stand Your Ground” or “Shoot First” laws; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges state legislatures which have adopted such laws to repeal them and pledges to work with the “Second Chance on Shoot First” campaign to accomplish this; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors opposes any federal legislation that would override local public safety and licensing decisions and force states to allow non-residents to carry concealed, loaded weapons in their communities – even if they would not qualify for a permit under local law.


RESOLUTION ADOPTED JUNE 2012