Longdon Joins Nationwide Task Force to Combat 'Shoot First' Laws
PHOENIX, AZ— Assistant House Democratic Leader Jennifer Longdon announced today that she has joined a new task force of state legislators committed to combat Shoot First laws, also known by the gun lobby as Stand Your Ground. On Thursday, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action announced the task force as part of a nationwide effort to reverse these laws. The new task force will double down on national efforts to restore self-defense laws in states, either by repealing Shoot First policies, reforming laws to ensure aggressors and gun extremists cannot claim self-defense, or preventing the expansion of Shoot First Laws to additional states.
In the coming months the task force will:
- Meet together, with experts to understand and highlight the impacts of Shoot First Laws from both a national and regional perspective;
- Be a leading voice in their state on Shoot First laws to educate and garner support from colleagues to restore self-defense laws;
- And identify new opportunities to restore self-defense laws in their state – whether that means repealing Shoot First policies, reforming laws to ensure aggressors and gun extremists cannot claim self-defense, or preventing the expansion of Shoot First Laws to additional states.
"We need more common-sense gun violence reform. Shoot First laws are inconsistently applied, encourage vigilantism and make no one safer, particularly people of color," said Representative Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix. "I'm proud to join this movement to help rethink and reframe this important debate. It will save lives lost to needless gun violence."
“Shoot First laws aren’t about standing your ground when threatened, they’re about making murder legal,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “They’re about empowering people with racist or vigilante views to shoot first and ask questions later. And it’s time we reframe the debate so Americans can decide if a Shoot First country is the kind they want to live in.”
“Shoot First laws make our communities less safe for everyone — particularly people of color,” said Monisha Henley, Sr. Director of State Government Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety. “Taking a life should always be a last resort — not the first. It’s well past time we restored our self-defense laws and returned to a system that actually helps us protect our families, rather than a system that makes murder legal and perpetuates cultures of violence.”
February 23 marks two years since the murder of Ahmaud Arbery and February 26 marks 10 years since the murder of Trayvon Martin. These murders highlighted the dangers of Shoot First laws — which essentially make murder legal and put people of color at further risk of racist violence and violence fueled by implicit bias and unconscious fear.
Research now shows that Shoot First laws have resulted in 700 additional gun deaths every year across the country. In Shoot First states, homicides in which white shooters kill Black victims are deemed justifiable five times more frequently than when the situation is reversed. States with weak gun laws, especially those with Shoot First laws on the books, have higher rates of gun deaths. More information about Shoot First laws is available here.
Everytown for Gun Safety’s interactive gun law platform — which shows the direct correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and its rate of gun deaths — is available here.