This week, the “stand your ground” expansion bill was passed in the Utah State Legislature. As a member of our community and a mother of a young son, I am extremely disappointed and concerned about this bill. “Stand your ground” laws allow people to shoot first and ask questions later in a situation they find dangerous, even if there is a way to safety retreat. “Stand your ground” laws are dangerous, they encourage armed vigilantism and they are associated with clear increases in homicides.

Utah law already recognizes the right to self-defense. Long-standing Utah law allows a person to use force, including deadly force, in self-defense so long as the person acted reasonably. The current law does not include a duty to retreat, while recognizing that it is always better to avoid taking lives. HB114 would distort the law to allow a person to shoot to kill someone in public, even when there is a clear and safe alternative to protect themselves.

“Stand your ground” laws are associated with an increase in firearm homicides and injuries, and do not deter crime. Florida’s SYG law is associated with bringing violence into suburban counties that were previously considered safe.

Please call Gov. Gary Herbert and encourage him to veto this dangerous “stand your ground” expansion bill.

Erica Livingston, Salt Lake City