'Stand your ground' bill passes House

JUNEAU — Alaska’s latest “stand your ground” bill has passed the House of Representatives.

HB24, by Rep. Mark Neuman, would remove certain criteria that people must meet before they have a right to use deadly force as a means of self-defense.

Today, Alaskans are allowed to take lethal action if they reasonably believe it is necessary to save their life or protect themselves against certain violent crimes. However, a person isn’t allowed to use such force if they know they can avoid it by leaving the area — unless they are in their home, workplace or protecting a member of that person’s household.

The Big Lake Republican’s bill would remove the duty to retreat for people who are in “any place where they have the right to be.”

“You have the right to defend yourself in your home,” Neuman said. “Why shouldn’t you be able to carry those rights to anywhere you have a right to be?”

Proponents of the bill argue that innocent, provoked Alaskans don’t have time to process and consider the legal nuances of their decisions in a split-second, life-or-death situation. The expanded self-defense rights would not apply to people who are trespassing or are involved in felonious or gang activity.

The bill passed 33-5, with Rep. Lindsey Holmes, R-Anchorage, joining four minority Democrats in the vote against.

One of them, Rep. Andy Josephson, said that the bill could complicate the prosecution of gang violence, though the freshman Democrat from Anchorage said his biggest worry was regarding errant bullets hitting innocent bystanders.

“Some people are just a bad aim,” Josephson said. “Even though I like the concept of ‘stand your ground,’ I don’t know that we can contain the flying metal.”

Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, issued a notice of reconsideration, meaning the bill will be re-voted on during the House’s next floor session Friday. Millett’s office said she issued the notice so those who voted against the measure will have a chance to reconsider their votes.

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