Letter: Repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’

To the Editor:

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, several Upper Valley residents attended the House Criminal Justice Committee hearing on HB 135 to repeal the Stand Your Ground law enacted last year over Gov. Lynch’s veto. I was saddened by the loud voices advocating government sanction for people who wish to protect themselves beyond the confines of their home and property. Collectively these voices tell us that many people today live in fear for their safety, fear that should be taken seriously. I am not convinced, however, that a Stand Your Ground law in New Hampshire is the best response. I would rather we focus on understanding the cause of that fear and find ways to keep people safe without ordinary citizens using deadly force in public places. Vigilantism does not belong in New Hampshire.

In my opinion, the presence of a gun escalates rather than defuses a tense situation. Mistakes happen, and a mistake with a loaded weapon can be fatal. At recent gun shows, five people — three in North Carolina, one in Indiana and one in Ohio — were accidentally injured when weapons discharged. A person shot and killed by a gun is not a statistic but a life lost, like that of Trayvon Martin in Florida who did not live to tell us his side of the story.

Gun manufacturers will be delighted by Stand Your Ground laws: they will make money by selling more weapons. I would hope that we in New Hampshire are more thoughtful and can help citizens feel safe without justifying more civilian gun use. Stand Your Ground introduces more possibilities of hurting innocent bystanders than protecting individual safety. It is time for our legislators to clarify that Second Amendment rights don’t take precedence over the safety of innocent bystanders. Please write your representative now to encourage passage of HB 135.

Information about the bill can be found at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status. (Type in “hb135” for the bill number.) The members of the committee and how to contact them can be found at www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/committees/committeedetails.aspx?code=H26.

Dena B. Romero