Two miles from my house at a Chandler Walmart, a man was shot and killed following a fight at the customer service counter on Sunday afternoon. The shooter claims self defense and that he was in fear for his life. We have heard this defense before.

With names like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn in the news, we have to ask the question, have we taken Stand Your ground to the extreme? Can the instigators of these altercations now claim self-defense?

Prior to 2010, Arizona’s version of Stand Your ground law was restricted to defending yourself in your home. In 2010, the law was amended and expanded to “any other place in this state where a person has the right to be.” Basically anywhere.

The problem with this law is that now a person who should retreat from a confrontation, may now feel free, even entitled to choose to use deadly force.

Another problem is that Arizona’s gun laws are the most lenient in the country. Also in 2010, Gov. brewer signed a bill which repeals an AZ state law that required gun owners to have permits to carry concealed weapons. There are virtually no obstacles to purchasing a gun in Arizona. Additionally, Arizona gun owners are allowed to carry weapons almost everywhere in the state.

With Arizona’s over broad Stand Your Ground law and virtually no restrictions in our gun laws, we are ripe for tragedies such as the shooting and killing of a man in my neighborhood on Sunday. And if something does not change, we will see these killings with more frequency.

I grew up in Mesa, so I am used to my community carrying guns. But how does it make any sense that it is easier to purchase and carry a gun that it is to drive a car in this state?

Responsible gun owners should be speaking out and condemning these shootings. The time is now for the Arizona Legislature to have an honest discussion about our Stand your Ground law and if it is really serving to protect our communities, or actually putting us in greater danger when we can be shot and killed for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, having an altercation at a store, or playing our music a little too loud for someone’s liking.

I do believe in the right to defend yourself and family. However, I teach my children to be peacemakers, and if a bad situation can not be diffused, to take the high road and walk away. Their lives are not worth sacrificing over a spat in a Walmart. We too as citizens should feel a duty to walk away from irrational people and situations.

Janee Pousson


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