Amid surge in crime, Hawaii lawmakers explore ‘stand your ground’ laws

Updated: Feb. 10, 2020 at 10:37 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the recent surge in violent crimes, Hawaii lawmakers are looking at ways to better protect the public.

Many states have enacted "Stand Your Ground" laws, which say, when threatened, a person does not have to retreat from the situation before using deadly force.

State Representative Sean Quinlan's proposal would allow people to defend themselves on their own property or at their business, without fear of criminal prosecution.

“If someone comes onto my property and they have a gun, they want to steal things from me, and maybe harm me, and I end up having to use deadly force to protect myself, I’m going to get arrested,” said Quinlan. “To me, that’s just wrong. That’s totally backwards.”

Quinlan believes Honolulu police are doing the best they can to address the crime wave, but with the department short hundreds of officers, he says communities need more tools for protection.

"If we don't have enough police officers, that suggests to me that we need to start defending ourselves. My mother, who is not a large person, recently purchased a handgun to defend herself because there have been so many break-ins including her own home," he said.

Under the current law, residents are only allowed to use deadly force if a situation occurs inside their home.

Back in October, Ewa resident Lou Xiong was arrested after police say he shot and killed a man who came onto his property with a knife.

Sources say the suspect did not comply with Xiong’s order to leave.

Michael Kitchens, the creator of Stolen Stuff Hawaii, says the law needs to change.

“You should be able to defend your home, no matter where you’re at,” said Kitchens. “Whether you’re in your kitchen or you’re out on your front porch.”

Critics of "Stand Your Ground" laws worry the proposal encourages more violence, and say it's based on how threatened a person feels versus how threatened they actually are.

But supporters believe a change in the law like this would make criminals think twice.

"Knowing the fact that I don't have to be inside my home, I don't have to run away from you, I have a right to stand my ground on my property, that is a huge deterrent to anybody," Kitchens said.

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, but it has not been given a hearing date yet.

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