- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

March 9

Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, S.C., on stand your ground law repeal:

State Rep. Harold Mitchell and much of the Legislative Black Caucus are backing a bill that would repeal South Carolina’s “stand your ground” law. The bill should provoke a necessary discussion on whether state law appropriately discourages violence.

Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, wants to change the Protections of Persons and Property Act, which was passed in 2006. That law included a provision that gives South Carolinians the right to “meet force with force, including deadly force” whenever they feel threatened in a place they have the right to be.

In other words, someone who feels threatened does not have an obligation to flee a conflict. He or she can use deadly force.

It sounds reasonable, allowing people to defend themselves against attackers, and it passed the General Assembly overwhelmingly. But it has had some disturbing applications.

In 2011, a real estate agent informed the owners of a vacant Spartanburg home that a homeless man was staying in the house. The owners got guns and went to the house to confront the man. They said the man attacked them, so one of them shot him in the face.

In 2012, a man and his girlfriend returned to the man’s Spartanburg apartment to see two men breaking in. The man got out of the car with a gun and confronted the burglars who took cover behind an air conditioning unit.

The man killed both, shooting them in the head at close range. He was not charged with the killings due to the stand your ground law, but he was later sent to prison on a federal charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a gun.

In each of these cases, citizens decided to create a confrontation with criminals that resulted in violence.

Lawmakers need to make sure South Carolinians have the right to defend themselves. But they also need to look at the law to make sure it isn’t creating an atmosphere in which people are too willing to take another’s life.

Responding with deadly force should always be a last resort. Avoiding the confrontation should be the preferred course. And retreating, if possible, is better than killing.



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