Washington, D.C.— Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) will introduce the “Stop Shoot First Laws” Amendment in response to the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African American young man who was gunned down in Florida in February, and similar cases around the country.

In 2005, Florida passed the first state law expanding an armed person’s right to use deadly force against an unarmed person in “any place where he has a right to be,” even if the confrontation could be safely avoided. Since 2005, groups like the National Rifle Association and the American Legislative Exchange Council have promoted “shoot first” laws in states around the country. Twenty-four states now have Florida-style laws.

The amendment would encourage any state with a “shoot first” law to make neighborhoods safer by repealing it. The amendment cuts Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding by 20 percent for any state with such a law. The Byrne JAG grant program is a partnership among federal, state, tribal and local governments to support a broad range of crime prevention activities.

“Shoot first laws have already cost too many lives. In Florida alone, deaths due to self-defense have tripled since the law was enacted. Federal money shouldn’t be spent supporting states with laws that endanger their own people,” Grijalva and Ellison said. “This is no different than withholding transportation funds from states that don’t enforce seatbelt laws.”

Who: CPC Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva and Keith Ellison

What: Introduction of “Stop Shoot First Laws” Amendment

When: During consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

Where: U.S. House of Representatives

Full text of the Amendment is below.


Page 44, line 6, insert before the semicolon the following: “Provided, That upon a determination by the Attorney General that a State has in effect a law allowing an armed person to confront an unarmed person in public and shoot to kill even if the confrontation could have been safely avoided, the Attorney General shall withhold 20 percent of the amount that would otherwise be allocated to that State under section 505 of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3755).”