April 11, 2012NAACP, National Urban League, National Action Network, ColorOfChange and VoteVets Join "Second Chance on Shoot First" Campaign, www.SecondChanceOnShootFirst.org
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, leaders of national African-American organizations and others today announced a new national grassroots campaign to repeal or reform the Florida-style “shoot first” laws that have passed in 25 states. The campaign – “Second Chance on Shoot First” – will focus on convincing state legislators who have supported shoot first laws to join the growing movement to reform or repeal these dangerous laws. The National Rifle Association drafted Florida’s law in 2005 and helped enact similar versions in other states, eventually bringing the total to 25 states by 2010 and those states have seen sharp increases in justifiable homicides. The Mayor made the announcement at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. where he was joined by Founder and President of the National Action Network the Reverend Al Sharpton, Executive Director of ColorofChange.org Rashad Robinson, Senior Vice President for Policy and Executive Director of the National Urban League Policy Institute Chanelle Hardy, NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton, Florida Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, Co-Founder and Chairman of VoteVets.org Jon Soltz and former chair of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys Glenn Ivey.
“It’s now clear: the NRA’s ‘shoot first’ laws that have passed in 25 states have undermined the integrity of the justice system, and done serious harm to public safety,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “They have sown confusion in police departments about when to make arrests, made it more difficult for prosecutors to bring charges in cases of deadly violence and, most importantly, they have been responsible for a major increase in so-called ‘justifiable homicides.’ These laws have not made our country safer; they have made us less safe and it’s why we’re launching a nationwide campaign to reform or repeal shoot first laws. The NRA’s leaders weren’t interested in public safety. They were interested in promoting a culture where people take the law into their own hands with a gun and face no consequences for it.”
“While it may have begun with all the best intentions, Florida’s Stand Your Ground has evolved into a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card for those the law was never intended to protect,” said Chris Smith, Florida State Senator and incoming Minority Leader. “And that needs to change.”
“As an Iraq veteran watching this national story unfold, I am finding it hard not to conclude that Florida’s law gives people much more leeway to shoot someone than our own military gives to our troops in war,” said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran and Chairman of VoteVets.org. “The Rules of Engagement that I had to follow in Iraq approached threats with a clear set of steps our troops had to take before firing a weapon. The bottom line goal was always to minimize unnecessary deaths, and failure to do so would lead you open to charges of manslaughter and a court-martial. I was shocked to learn what goes for the military and half the states in America is no longer the case in Florida and the two dozen other states with new ‘Shoot First’ laws.”
“We are glad to stand with Mayor Bloomberg and others in an effort to reverse the trend toward these Kill-at-Will laws – ghostwritten and promoted by the NRA,” said Chanelle Hardy, Senior Vice President for Policy and Executive Director of the National Urban League Policy Institute. “We believe that creating an opportunity for state legislatures to reconsider their earlier support for these laws is a good thing, and we urge them to do the right thing, and take a stand against these measures.”
According to data provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, examples of the rise in cases of justifiable homicide in states that have passed “shoot first” laws include:
Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna