‘Stand Your Ground’ proposal stirs debate at state Legislature

Updated: Feb. 4, 2021 at 2:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There’s considerable debate at the state Legislature this session on whether to pursue passage of a so-called “Stand Your Ground” law in Hawaii.

On Tuesday, House Bill 534 was heard before the House Committee on Pandemic & Disaster Preparedness. It received lots of criticism, even from guns rights advocates.

Hawaii Firearms Coalition Director Andrew Namiki Roberts asked the committee to change the wording of the bill to match House Bill 711.

“This would allow people to use force to defend themselves within their home, the workplace and any other area where they will legally be,” Namiki said.

Republican State Rep. Bob McDermott HB711.

He said he wants to give residents the right to defend themselves against criminals.

“We want to protect law-abiding citizens and allow them to defend themselves, whether they use a potato peeler or a rifle, it doesn’t matter to me,” McDermott said.

He said the recent apparent surge of armed robberies, violent attacks, shootings and murders in the state is alarming and he wants to give people a chance to fight back.

Hawaii’s current law states there is a duty to retreat before any self-defense can be used.

“There are cases on the mainland where have gotten sued. They break into a house, they get shot, they sue the homeowner. It’s ridiculous,” McDermott said.

In 2019, a 54-year-old property owner in Ewa shot and killed an intruder armed with a knife. The homeowner was initially arrested for murder but was eventually released.

McDermott said Hawaii has to do more to protect victims of crime.

The proposed law justifies deadly force to protect yourself, your home, or someone else from an attacker or an intruder.

Kat Brady, of the Community Alliance on Prisons, told lawmakers she believes Hawaii’s current laws are adequate to protect people.

“Community Alliance on Prisons is very concerned about any bill that would encourage violence,” she said. “We think that when property is more important than human life, that puts everybody in jeopardy.”

Twenty-seven states have “Stand Your Ground” laws.

The bill has passed its first reading and made it out of its first committee hearing.

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