Since 2005, 22 states have passed laws authorizing residents to use lethal means to protect themselves in certain situations. The trend had stalled until Republicans became the majority in more legislatures. Florida is poised to strengthen its law in favor of shooters.
For the eleventh year in a row, Iowa legislators this year took up a “stand your ground” proposal, authorizing residents to use lethal means to protect themselves in certain situations. In other states, such laws have disproportionately justified the fatal shootings of African-Americans. What was different now, in 2017, was the measure’s likely passage, reports The Trace. In November, Republicans, who overwhelmingly support the policy, won a majority in the Iowa State Senate, giving the party control of both the legislature and the governorship for the first time since 1998.
“Stand your ground” passed, and Gov. Terry Branstad signed it. For four years, between 2012 and 2016, every state that tried to enact “stand your ground” legislation failed. Now the policy is again finding its way into law. Last year, Missouri became the first state to break the logjam, followed by Iowa. Florida is poised to strengthen its law in favor of shooters, shifting the burden of proof in pre-trial hearings to prosecutors, who would have to convince a judge that someone claiming “stand your ground” shouldn’t be immune from prosecution. “The states that passed ‘stand your ground’ early on were low-hanging fruit,” said Christopher Mooney of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois. “As Republicans gain strength in states like Missouri and Iowa, the odds of it passing go up.” Twenty-two states have passed versions of the law since 2005. Stand your ground” removes a person’s duty to retreat in the face of grave danger, granting the legal right to use deadly force if the perception of a threat is “reasonable.” (Critics refer to the statutes as “shoot first” laws.)