Two Democrats in the N.C. General Assembly have filed a bill that would repeal and replace the state’s “stand your ground” laws.
The Gun Safety Act, House Bill 723, was filed on Monday and would repeal the law that gives North Carolina citizens the right to defend themselves with deadly force in their homes, vehicles and at work without “the duty to retreat from an intruder.”
The new bill would roll back the laws to the common standard that gives citizens a “clear-cut affirmative defense” if they use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes, said Rep. Pricey Harrison, a Guilford County Democrat who sponsored the bill with Rep. Verla Insko, an Orange County Democrat.
Residents still would be allowed to defend themselves – including through use of deadly force – and would not be required to retreat from an intruder.
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The new bill also would repeal the section of the current law granting immunity from civil or criminal liability for those who exercise force under the stand-your-ground laws. Harrison said immunity from liability under the new bill is “a gray area.”
The current law says residents are justified in using force, but not deadly force, if they believe it’s necessary to defend themselves or someone else.
But the law also says that a person is justified in using deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat “in any place he or she has the lawful right to be” if he or she believes that deadly force is necessary to “prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another.”
North Carolina’s law does not provide stand your ground protection to people who use force against law enforcement if the officer was lawfully acting in the performance of his or her duties and identified themselves according to law.
The new bill clarifies use of deadly physical force against an intruder. The bill says people are justified in “using any degree of force” they believe is necessary against an intruder to prevent the intruder from entering their home or to “terminate the intruder’s unlawful entry” if they believe the intruder may kill or seriously injury them or others in the home, or if they believe the intruder intends to commit a felony in the home.
The new bill also strengthens the law for safe storage of firearms, requires the reporting of lost and stolen guns, requires any firearm owner to carry firearm liability insurance, limits the size of ammunition magazines and other amendments and additions.
Democrats have unsuccessfully attempted to repeal stand-your-ground laws in North Carolina several times in the past. Harrison said the new bill is almost exactly the same as the bill introduced in the 2013-14 and 2015-16 sessions, with a few modifications.
Harrison said she and Insko realize the bill may fail again.
“We recognize the political climate we’re in,” Harrison said. “We’re mostly playing defense.”
North Carolina is one of 26 states that have some form of stand your ground legislation.
To read House Bill 723, go to www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2017/Bills/House/PDF/H723v0.pdf.