HB129: Lawmaker looks to pass Utah version of “stand your ground” law

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Utah lawmaker and BYU graduate Rep. Cory Maloy, R-Lehi, is sponsoring a Utah version of the so-called “stand your ground” bill in the 2018 Legislature.

HB129 is a proposed bill that would clarify self-defense laws in Utah. If passed the bill would protect resident who acted in self-defense from being questioned in court as to why they didn’t retreat.

Rep. Cory Maloy sponsor of HB129

“The main purpose is to make clear the law that you have a right to self-defense and no obligation to retreat if you feel a justified need for self-defense,” Maloy said, “You do not have to retreat even if there is a safe place to retreat.”

Utahns have the right to defend themselves. However, if someone acts in self-defense under the current law a prosecutor can ask why they didn’t retreat. This bill would clarify that if a person acts in self-defense they cannot be questioned later why they did not retreat.

“(This law) has been in place for many, many years. It isn’t a new law. It outlines what self-defense is and what it isn’t. It protects your right, my right and everyone’s right to defend themselves against bad people who want to inflict harm,” Maloy said. “(The bill) simply adds that you don’t have to retreat even if there is a safe place to retreat to, and prevents a line of questioning in court asking why someone didn’t retreat when they were not obligated to retreat while defending themselves. It does not make aggression OK.”

Maloy sponsored a similar stand your ground bill, HB259, during the 2017 legisltative session. Though the bill passed the House it did not make it through the Senate before the session ended. Maloy is hoping the bill passes smoothly this session.

Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, sponsored HB259 when it came to Senate during the 2017 legislature.

“I am always supportive of citizens being empowered to protect themselves against an aggressor.  Law Enforcement cannot be everywhere all the time — and individuals should have the right and the responsibility to take care of their own safety as much as possible. This proposal ties into the Second Amendment which I always support,” Dayton said.

Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, will sponsor HB129 in the 2018 session.

However, not everyone supports this bill. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, opposed HB259 during the last session and says she still opposes HB129.

Romero has raised concerns that a bills such as this would increase violence and homicide rates.

Salt Lake City Democrat Rep. Angela Romero, center sponsored several bills dealing with women’s rights (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

“When you look at stand your ground laws I have concerns on how it impacts women, especially women who have been involved in domestic violence situations and I also have concerns with profiling,” Romero said. She also has concerns with racial profiling and how law enforcement might identify if someone’s truly an aggressor.

Maloy said, “This is not a justification to use self-defense as an excuse to be an aggressor. You cannot be an aggressor . . .any use of force has to be completely justified before it can be ruled self-defense.”

Romero said there were no changes that could be made in order for her to support a stand your ground bill.

“Everyone looks at this world through a different paradigm. From his perspective, he (Maloy) sees this as a bill that is about protecting yourself, but I don’t see it that way. A lot of times its based off lived experiences and what you’ve been exposed to,” Romero said.

However, Maloy maintains this is a bill about protecting residents, “The most important thing to remember is that everyone in the state of Utah has the right to defend themselves from harm.”

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