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Shooting Of Teen Ralph Yarl Puts MO Self Defense Law Under Fire

Missouri state Rep. Maggie Nurrenbern has been sounding the alarm for years over the state’s loose gun laws. In February, she introduced a bill limiting the scope of Missouri’s “stand your ground” law. The bill went nowhere, the Kansas City Star reports. Over the weekend, Nurrenbern, who is white, found herself explaining to her adopted 9-year-old son, who is Black, the shooting of Ralph Yarl – a Black 16-year-old Kansas City student who was shot twice by a white homeowner after ringing the doorbell of a residence while looking for his brothers. “I think we now have a shoot first, ask later policy in this state, or at least that is what people have interpreted it to be,” said Nurrenbern, a Democrat who represents part of the area where the incident happened.


Anger has been building after the shooting, in part because of a sense among Democrats and, gun control activists that the state’s gun laws have contributed to an atmosphere where residents feel too comfortable pulling the trigger. Republicans, who hold supermajorities in the Missouri House and Senate, signaled they have no plans to narrow the state’s gun laws and voiced confidence in the justice system. A local prosecutor announced charges in the Yarl case. “These shoot first laws, stand your ground laws – they’re harmful and they’re dangerous policies that give people a license to kill,” said Carthesa Dillard of the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action whose 19-year-old son was shot and killed in 2017 and 18-year-old brother was shot and killed in 2014. Asked whether any self-defense laws may apply in the Yarl case, Kansas City Police Chief Stacey Graves said “that’s a potential.” Attorneys have cast doubt on whether the state’s self-defense laws would apply. It will be up to the shooter to raise the defense.

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