Democrats should withdraw bill targeting crime victims

Greg McNeilly

When bad men try to hurt people, it’s up to good men and women to stand up and stop them.

The state legislature’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Jim Ananich, wants to spin that simple truth on its head.

Under legislation he sponsored alongside a trio of other ultra-liberal Democrats in the state Senate, Senate Bill 611, when bad men try to hurt people, it’d be up to good men and women to run and hide.

It’s not a new bill — Ananich and state Sens. Coleman Young II, Rebekah Warren and Curtis Hertel Jr. introduced it last year — but it deserves a fresh look in light of recent events.

It’s been a month now since a terrorist shot his way into the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida, pledging allegiance to ISIS while murdering 49 men and women in cold blood.

Things were much different in South Carolina just a couple weeks later, when a man opened fire outside of another popular nightclub, shooting three people before being stopped in his tracks by a local resident legally carrying a concealed handgun.

As a nation, we continue to debate the proper response to attacks like these. Unfortunately, most of the debate has ignored the fact that it is men and women with guns who ultimately put an end to them.

Fancy Hollywood actors like Matt Damon — who has made a metaphorical killing playing gun-wielding action heroes like Jason Bourne — and Democrat politicians from California to Georgia to Iowa have suggested the government simply confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans.

Ananich’s bill is even more shocking. Instead of just stripping Michiganians of their rights, his bill would embolden and empower the criminals who attack them.

SB 611 would repeal Michigan’s “Self Defense Act” — also known as the Castle Doctrine or Stand Your Ground Law — that protects residents from prosecution if they use deadly force to defend themselves or others from a violent attack.

The Self Defense Act gives Michiganders the legal right to fight back if they “honestly and reasonably” believe they or another person are at risk of death, severe injury or rape. It says “we won’t prosecute you if you fight back to stop a mass shooting.”

At a time in our nation’s history when calls for “sensible” gun reform are louder than ever, crime victim advocates and good men and women across the state are left wondering — what’s sensible about repealing that?

Think about it for a minute. SB 611 wouldn’t do a thing to prevent attacks like those in Lyman or Orlando, but Michigan residents who “honestly and reasonably” believe they, or another person, are at risk of death, serious injury or even rape would suddenly be at risk of legal action if they fight back.

The bill puts the victims of violent crime in the crosshairs of the criminal justice system, and tells would-be attackers that their victims are forbidden from opposing them. It was an abhorrent piece of legislation when Democrats introduced it, and it’s even more offensive today.

If state Democrats are serious about “sensible” reform to help prevent gun violence, it’s time for Ananich and company to withdraw Senate Bill 611.

Greg McNeilly is chairman of the Michigan Freedom Fund.