The controversial Stand Your Ground Bill is getting a makeover in Indiana when it comes to protecting shooters from lawsuits.
The new legislation adds civil court protection and expands the law to include the shooter cannot be sued civilly by the victim or their family.
The measure passed on Monday with a 64 to 17 vote in the House and a 37 to 7 vote in the Senate. Meaning the bill now goes to Republican Governor Eric Holcomb for his signature.
The law also expands “Stand Your Ground” provisions — one of which may allow guns in churches located on school property.
The new expansion to the law, allows schools to decide whether to have armed individuals within churches located on school property. The bill part of H.B. 1284 also waives any additional fees for handgun licenses for a period of 5-years.
The new addition to the existing law was prompted by a self-defense shooting in 2017. The incident involved an individual, who suddenly pulled a gun on a state employee. The incident is witnessed by an armed bystander, realizing that the unarmed state employee’s life was in emanate peril, Kystie Phillips ordered the individual to drop the gun, ignoring the demand Phillips pulled out her own legally registered handgun and fired, killing the assailant.
Although prosecutors did not press criminal charges against Phillips, the deceased man’s family filed a civil matter against her.
“What if a split second decides who lives and who dies? What if you’re the only person who can make this life-saving decision?” Phillips said in her March Senate committee testimony, which was reported by WTTV. “I didn’t think about the immense financial burden of legal defense. I didn’t think about the emotional nightmare that my family was about to endure the next two years.”
Jim Lucas a Republican legislator from Florida, recalling the Parkland school shooting, acknowledged that a similar bill like Indiana’s “Stand Your Ground” law which allows trained teachers to respond before law enforcement could arrive, might have prevented some of the carnage.
Lucas said with at least 38 hours of training, the bill being purposed in Florida to arm school teachers would require more training than some Indiana police officers receive.
Lucas went on to explain, “It’s much more in-depth and focusing on just one scenario. Firearms safety, weapon retention, force-on- force, shoot/don’t shoot scenarios, first aid and then the psychological aspects afterwards of how to deal with that.”
Adding, “The school corporations that do want to do this, we have a training class developed by the people that train our police officers. The state will pay for it, and then when you look at the economics of it as well, one school resource officer is about $70,000 annually, every year that’s a $70,000 expense. For the one-year cost of one school resource officer, we can train about 45 staff members. So you’ve got a 45:1 scenario right there and now you’ve got one heck of a deterrent in that facility.”