Group will work to restore self-defense laws in states across the country
PONTIAC, Mich., March 2, 2022 — State Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac) recently announced that she will be joining a new task force of state legislators who are committed to combating “Shoot First” laws, also known by gun lobby allies as “Stand Your Ground” laws. Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action announced the task force as part of a nationwide effort to combat these laws. The new task force will double down on national efforts to restore self-defense laws in states, either by repealing “Shoot First” policies, reforming laws to ensure aggressors and gun extremists cannot claim self-defense, or preventing the expansion of “Shoot First” laws to additional states.
In the coming months, the task force will:
- Meet together with experts to understand and highlight the impacts of Shoot First laws from both a national and regional perspective.
- Be a leading voice in their state on “Shoot First” laws to educate and garner support from colleagues to restore self-defense laws.
- Identify new opportunities to restore self-defense laws in their state — whether that means repealing “Shoot First” policies, reforming laws to ensure aggressors and gun extremists cannot claim self-defense, or preventing the expansion of “Shoot First” laws to additional states.
“Legislators can no longer sit on the sideline and act as if there is nothing we can do to stop this senseless bloodshed plaguing our state and nation,” Carter said. “Shooting innocent Black kids is not self-defense, and I will make it one of my missions to get “Shoot First” laws off the books in Michigan and across the country.”
“‘Shoot First’ laws aren’t about standing your ground when threatened, they’re about making murder legal,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “They’re about empowering people with racist or vigilante views to shoot first and ask questions later. And it’s time we reframe the debate so Americans can decide if a ‘Shoot First’ country is the kind they want to live in.”
“‘Shoot First’ laws make our communities less safe for everyone — particularly people of color,” said Monisha Henley, senior director of state government affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Taking a life should always be a last resort — not the first. It’s well past time we restored our self-defense laws and returned to a system that actually helps us protect our families, rather than a system that makes murder legal and perpetuates cultures of violence.”
Feb. 23 marked two years since the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and Feb. 26 marked 10 years since the murder of Trayvon Martin. These murders highlighted the dangers of “Shoot First” laws — which essentially make murder legal and put people of color at further risk of racist violence and violence fueled by implicit bias and unconscious fear.
Research now shows that “Shoot First” laws have resulted in 700 additional gun deaths every year across the country. In “Shoot First” states, homicides in which white shooters kill Black victims are deemed justifiable five times more frequently than when the situation is reversed. States with weak gun laws, especially those with “Shoot First” laws on the books, have higher rates of gun deaths. More information about “Shoot First” laws is available here.
In an average year, 1,270 people die by guns in Michigan. Everytown for Gun Safety’s interactive gun law platform — which shows the direct correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of gun deaths — is available here.