Tulsa Senator Hopes To Change 'Stand Your Ground' Law

Wednesday, February 3rd 2016, 5:17 pm
By: Grant Hermes

A state senator from Tulsa wants to change Oklahoma’s controversial “stand your ground” law, making it harder to use as a defense, according to legislation filed Monday.

The law allows gun owners to use deadly force if they think they or someone near them is in immediate danger of being seriously hurt or killed.

State Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, is hoping to make several changes to the law by adding and removing language in a new law he introduced, Senate Bill 1009.

He wants shooters to only act without provoking their attacker and they must be unable to safely retreat. The law would also no longer apply to stopping felonies in progress, unless the shooter was in immediate danger.

Currently, those “standing their ground” can act after provoking an attacker and do not have to retreat from an attacker before using deadly force.

Matthews was inspired to change the law after a highly publicized shooting of Monroe Bird III, 21, by Tulsa security guard Ricky Stone.

Stone said Bird backed his car into him forcing him to fire.

Bird was hit in the neck and paralyzed. He later died from his injuries.

Stone was never prosecuted after a judge ruled he used force legally under the law.

“[Oklahomans] have the right to protect themselves however they feel necessary including using deadly force,” Matthews said in a release. “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.”

“I like the way that stand your ground is now. If you feel that that threat is real and you're in imminent danger right there you have to react,” Kevin Maxfield at Wilshire Gun in Oklahoma City said.

Maxfield teacher several concealed carry classes each week. He said he tells students not to engage unless they perceive a threat as imminent.

Gun owners and gun rights advocates say the law is necessary for Oklahomans to protect themselves, despite critics who say the law allows civilians to take the law into their own hands.

“I don't think it promotes vigilantism at all. I think it's just allowing people to defend themselves when that threat is imminent right there in front of them,” Maxfield said.

Matthews did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday afternoon. SB 1009 was referred to the Senate Public Safety Committee and was scheduled for review on Tuesday.