Rep. Gaetz, Sen. Mullin introduce national ‘Stand Your Ground’ bills: ‘Legal duty to retreat’ helps attacker
FIRST ON FOX: Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin, both Republicans, are proposing a national “Stand Your Ground” law against attackers.
Gaetz caught up over the phone with Fox News Digital on Thursday about his and Mullin’s companion bills dropping the same day, with the Florida Republican saying the proposed law came out of his efforts in the Sunshine State legislature “after the Trayvon Martin death.”
While chairman of the Florida House’s Criminal Justice Subcommittee, Gaetz said he held hearings on the state’s Stand Your Ground law amid “national calls to repeal” the statute.
“I became even more convinced that the legal duty to retreat from common law puts the law on the side of the attacker, not the victim,” Gaetz said.
“And as I’ve gotten to Congress, I don’t believe that the legal duty to retreat as an American ought to be different in Florida and Connecticut and Massachusetts and California,” he continued.
“I think we ought to have a national reckoning on the duty to retreat, and we ought to extinguish it,” Gaetz added.
Gaetz said America has “too many states that continue to maintain the duty to retreat if one is attacked outside their home” and that Congress “should supersede that state law because it leaves Americans vulnerable.”
The Florida Republican noted that in “our nation’s capital today,” a person being attacked on the street has to make a “split-second” decision on whether they can “turn their back and run,” with a “miscalculation” potentially proving “fatal.”
“And if you miscalculate toward the side of self-defense, you could be under arrest,” Gaetz said. “If someone is intending to commit a forcible felony on an American, an American right should be meeting that force with comparable force.”
Gaetz said he is seeing increasing support for the measure among his GOP colleagues and said Mullin’s companion bill in the Senate “is a big boost.”
“Since I serve on the Judiciary Committee, I’m going to be using that perch to inject my views on self-defense and extinguishing the duty to retreat in the various legislative proposals that the committee may consider,” Gaetz said.
Gaetz also blasted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., saying he ‘hasn’t been the greatest when it comes to putting the law on the sides of the victim.”
“He seems to hold a different view, so we may have to use leverage on a must-pass bill to get Stand Your Ground considered,” Gaetz said.
The Florida congressman said “in practice,” Stand Your Ground laws have “stopped arrests on sight when someone has engaged in legitimate self-defense.”
“That defanged arrest has a chilling effect when someone justly defends themselves,” Gaetz added.
Mullin told Fox News Digital that states “like Oklahoma and Florida recognize that in some cases, the use of lethal force is justified to prevent imminent death or serious bodily harm.”
“Every American should have the right to defend himself or herself against imminent threats to personal safety without the duty to retreat,” Mullin said.
“I’m proud to introduce the Stand Your Ground Act in the Senate to codify these commonsense self-defense protections for all law-abiding Americans,” he added.