Sen. Matthews wants limits on ‘Stand Your Ground Law’

Sen. Kevin Matthews has filed Senate Bill 1009, which adds limitations on how Oklahomans can defend themselves under the “Stand Your Ground Law.”

Matthews said he believes citizens absolutely have the right to protect themselves when their lives or their loved ones are in immediate danger.  However, he does not feel that people should be able to use the law as a defense when they provoke a violent situation or had other options available to them, such as calling the police, to avoid using force.

“This law is clear – Oklahomans have a right to expect absolute safety within their homes, businesses and vehicles.  If they feel their lives are being threatened or they’re going to be hurt, they have the right to protect themselves however they feel necessary including using deadly force,” said Matthews, D-Tulsa.  “However, we’re starting to see cases where people are overreacting to a situation where they aren’t truly in danger and they could simply call the police to resolve the situation peacefully.  But instead they’re shooting people who haven’t necessarily committed a crime or had no intentions of hurting them.”

Matthews has filed Senate Bill 1009, which clarifies that under this law someone must be attacked “without provocation” because he believes the law should not be used as a defense for someone who escalates a situation by taunting, arguing or provoking another person.

“The Stand Your Ground law was created to give citizens the ability to protect themselves when someone unlawfully enters their home, business or car and they feel that they’re going to be harmed,” said Matthews.  “When a homeowner starts an argument with one of their guests they shouldn’t be able to use this law as a defense when they played a role in causing the violence.  The same goes for people in their cars; unless someone is trying to enter your car and hurt you, just drive away.  A person shouldn’t be able to shoot someone from their vehicle just because they’re irritated or scared – drive to a safe place and call the police.”

Matthews felt his bill was necessary following recent shootings where individuals used the Stand Your Ground Law as a defense.

“There have been two recent cases where I believe people were shot unnecessarily and this law was wrongly used as a defense,” Matthews said. “One involved an Owasso teenager who was playing the prank of ringing door bells and running off but one of the homeowners shot the honor student as he was innocently running away from the house.  He survived but another young man wasn’t so lucky after he was approached while sitting in his car with his girlfriend in a Tulsa apartment parking lot.  The young man supposedly backed his car toward an approaching security guard who shot the young man multiple times as he was driving away.  That 21-year-old died unnecessarily because the guard, like the homeowner, was in no danger and could have called the police for help.”