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Houston Co. Dems put Stand Your Ground questions on ballot | News

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Houston Co. Dems put Stand Your Ground questions on ballot

Georgia gun laws take center stage on the May 10 primary ballot, if you live in Houston County and if you ask for a Democratic ballot.

Houston County Democrats chose to put two non-binding questions about Georgia's Stand Your Ground law on the ticket.

Uphill battles are nothing new to Fenika Miller. She said with a laugh, "It's hard here in Houston County!"

She's a Democrat in a Republican stronghold. Miller is serving a second term as party chairwoman.

She says Democrats are the minority, but their voices still number in the thousands.

Miller says the local party wants leaders in the state legislature to hear them, specifically house majority leader from Houston County, Larry O'Neal.

Miller said, "The house leader does have the authority to advance legislation."

They want O'Neal to allow legislative hearings on Georgia's Stand Your Ground law.

It says that a person can use force in self-defense, without retreating first.

Miller believes two local ballot questions could force legislators to take a closer look at the issue.

She said, "He can nudge them into reforming and amending, or repealing and ending the Stand Your Ground Law in Georgia."

Question #6 on the ballot asks to repeal the law. Question #7 asks to reform it.

Here's the text of Question #6: "Should the Georgia Legislature repeal the GA Stand Your Ground Law (O.C.G.A. 16-3-23.1) and return to the settled common law on self-defense?"

Here's the text of Question #7: "I
f the Georgia Legislature elects not to repeal the GA Stand Your Ground Law (O.C.G.A. 16-3-23.1), should the Legislature amend the current law to remove ambiguity and restore the duty to retreat outside of one's home or place of business?"

Miller wants Houston Democrats to answer "yes" to both.

The questions are non binding, but she hopes they will show O'Neal and others how people feel about the issue.

She said, "There's no duty to retreat, no clarity in the law. It's based on your reasonable presumption of fear."

Creator of the Facebook group, Houston County Carries Concealed, Kelly Burke believes the law represents the opinion of the majority in the state.

He said, "If you're not the aggressor, you don't have to back down just to make sure somebody else wins."

Burke said most southern and western states have Stand Your Ground Laws in place.

He said, "Georgia's kind of a southern defend myself, defend my honor, defend my family state. I don't see that you're ever going to get to the point that Georgia backs down."

Burke contends that state law has never required people to retreat from aggressors, therefore, making the ballot questions invalid.

He doesn't believe the vote will get across the intended message, to the intended people. Burke said, "Good luck with that."

13WMAZ could not reach Rep. Larry O'Neal for comment.

Early voting started across Georgia this week. In Houston County, election officials say it's been slow so far.

On Monday, people can cast ballots in three locations: the Board of Elections in Perry, Central Georgia Technical College on Cohen Walker Drive, and the old Houston Mall off Watson Boulevard.

Polls are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 16 for early voting.

Election Day is Tuesday May 20.


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