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Florida's 'Force with force' law sparks campaign to warn tourists about potential violence

By Linda Kleindienst
Tallahassee Bureau Chief
September 26 2005

TALLAHASSEE -- Warning that Florida streets have the potential to morph into the O.K. Corral, gun-control advocates will launch an international campaign to alert travelers about a new state law that allows people to use deadly force in self-defense.

On Saturday it will become legal to use force on an attacker without first trying to escape the confrontation.

Supporters say the measure, which they dub the "Stand Your Ground" law, allows residents to protect themselves by meeting force with force.

Opponents, who call it the "Shoot First Law," warn it could hand itchy trigger fingers a license to kill.

"It's a particular risk faced by travelers coming to Florida for a vacation because they have no idea it's going to be the law of the land," said Peter Hamm, communications director of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "If they get into a road rage argument, the other person may feel he has the right to use deadly force."

In a flier the group plans to pass out at Miami International Airport and possibly Orlando International Airport, tourists will be admonished to take precautions that include: "Do not argue unnecessarily with local people." Newspapers ads, billboards and the Internet will also be used to spread the word.

Championed by the National Rifle Association, the law makes it legal for someone to use deadly force against anyone who unlawfully or forcefully enters their home or car -- even if they are not being attacked.

Marion Hammer, president of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and a former NRA president, said the fearmongers are off-base. She said the new law seals the existing right of residents to protect their homes by shooting intruders, a concept known as the Castle Doctrine that dates back to the 1400s. But it extends that right to public places if people feel threatened with death or bodily harm.

The law was needed, she contends, because Florida prosecutors and courts have imposed a duty to retreat on law-abiding people who are attacked by criminals.

"When they take away your basic rights and freedoms, every once in a while you have to take it back. No law-abiding citizen should be forced to retreat from an attacker ... in their homes or any place they have a legal right to be," Hammer said.

"Under existing law, you have a duty to try to run and maybe get chased down and beaten to death," she added. "Now, if you have a knife, firearm or pepper spray, you can use force to protect yourself."

Willie Meggs, who was president of the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association when the Legislature considered the bill this spring, said it solves a problem that doesn't exist.

"We may not have any problems with it and if we don't, that's fine," said Meggs, the state attorney for Leon County. "But what I worry about, and I don't know if it will come to fruition, is that people who should be prosecuted will have a defense for using force when they didn't need to."

In signing the bill into law last spring, Gov. Jeb Bush defended the measure, saying it "defies common sense" to force people to retreat when they're in a life-threatening situation.

The Brady Campaign, established by former presidential spokesman Jim Brady and his wife Sarah, plans to aggressively advertise on the Internet to warn out-of-state tourists. Hamm said that as of Wednesday when the phrase "Florida Vacation" is typed onto some search engines a link to will pop up.

The group is also running ads in the travel sections of the Boston Globe, Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune and likely some London newspapers beginning Sunday. They will also be putting up billboards in places where they can be easily seen by tourists and passing out airport fliers in English and Spanish.

"The biggest myth in Florida is [that] this is about protecting people who use legitimate self-defense," Hamm said. "This law ... sends a message to people who are potentially unstable and have an itchy trigger finger that as long as they can make a reasonable case they were in fear, they can use deadly force against somebody."

The measure had overwhelming support in the Legislature, where it passed the Senate in a 39-0 vote and the House, 94-20.

"We're the wild, wild West and I think criminals will abuse it," said Rep. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, one of the few who voted against the measure. "There will be more street fights ... especially if there is a criminal element in a certain area, [and] they won't hesitate to use their guns."

Nonsense, said Hammer, saying the law will now do what most people thought it already did.

"Most people know you can't chase somebody down the street and shoot them," she said.

Posts: 2412 | Location: TDCAA | Registered: March 08, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Seems like a case where reality and theory are butting heads. In theory, I think most of us agree that a person who reasonably fears the use of force should be able to defend himself. The problem is that in reality, we end up only getting one side of the story as to what really happened, because the other guy is dead. How are prosecutors ever going to be able to counter a defense that doesn't require a defendant to do mmore than say "Well, he looked like he might maybe possibly be about to attack me."
Posts: 622 | Location: San Marcos | Registered: November 13, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Same stuff that was carted out in '95 when Texas passed the concealed handgun statute. Dire predictions of gun battles in the streets and on the roadways, which never materialized.
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The Brady bunch is hardly an authority on firearms and firearm laws. They always say the sky is falling, it never does, and they never admit they were wrong.
Posts: 245 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: July 08, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
<Dennis Foster>
I like this quote best:

In a flier the group plans to pass out at Miami International Airport and possibly Orlando International Airport, tourists will be admonished to take precautions that include: "Do not argue unnecessarily with local people."

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Reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit..
Posts: 764 | Location: Dallas, Texas | Registered: November 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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House OKs bill to expand basis for using deadly force in home

Associated Press
Feb. 14, 2006

The [Arizona House of Representatives] wants to have Arizona follow Florida's lead and enact a so-called castle doctrine law that permits use of deadly force against an intruder who illegally enters a home or vehicle, not necessarily just when force is believed to be necessary to protect someone from physical force.

Besides expanding the legal justification for using deadly force, the legislation backed by the National Rifle Association would state a person has no duty to back away before threatening or using force.

The House's 36-21 vote on Monday sent House Bill 2392 to the Senate, where similar legislation is pending.

The proposed expanded authorization would not apply to confrontations involving relatives, law enforcement officers or people with a legal right to be in the home or other place where the confrontation occurred.

Last year, Florida enacted an NRA-backed law to loosen restrictions on the use of deadly force, and Wyoming, Kansas, South Dakota and Michigan are among other states considering similar legislation this year.

You can be assured that this so-called "castle doctrine" concept will be introduced as a bill in the next regular legislative session.

Does Texas need to change its self-defense law? Why/why not?
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House OKs expansion of self-defense law

Car added as place where 'you don't have to retreat'

Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Huntsville Times

MONTGOMERY - Critics said the Alabama House pulled a political stunt Tuesday when it passed a bill that would increase the places where people can shoot in self-defense.

"It puts everybody on a level playing field," said Rep. Albert Hall, D-Gurley, the bill's sponsor. "You don't have to retreat."

The bill, backed by the National Rifle Association, expands where Alabama's self-defense laws apply, adding people's cars or "any place where he or she has the right to be."

The bill would allow a person to use deadly force if they "reasonably believe" someone is going to use unlawful force against them.

Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said the bill is too broad and too political.

"It's still a 'make-my-day' bill," Rogers said, referring to the Clint Eastwood movie character "Dirty Harry."

Rogers said the bill is a way to protect white Democrats. By voting for the bill, Rogers said, he is protecting them. "If we didn't pass it, Republicans were going to use it against white Democrats."

But Hall and the bill's other supporters said it would give homeowners the chance to defend themselves without having to retreat, although critics of the bill said people don't have to retreat under current law.

Hall also said it would reduce burglaries and home invasions.

If criminals "think they're going to get shot in the house, they're going to think twice," Hall said.

Also, Hall said the bill ensures the people who use force in self-defense can't be sued.

"They can't use litigation to get everything you've got," he said.

The bill had been delayed at the behest of the Legislature's black caucus several weeks ago. And after negotiations with white Democrats, the caucus relented.

In the new version of the bill, a person can't be shot if they come into a tent or try to hijack a bicycle.

One provision left intact, at the urging of the Alabama Power Co., was deadly force could be used if a person trespasses at a nuclear power plant.

Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, one of only two House members who voted against the bill, said she didn't see the need to keep the provision in the bill.

"It didn't harm or hurt the bill," responded Marcel Black, D-Tuscumbia, who negotiated the changes to the bill.

The bill, modeled on a controversial Florida bill, passed by a vote of 97-2. It will now go to the Senate.

The NRA is pushing similar bills in 16 other states. So far, Florida is the only state to make the bill law.
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Is this an attempt to legalize road rage? Whatever happened to the NRA's position that "we don't need new laws; we just need to enforce the ones we have"?
Posts: 1029 | Location: Fort Worth, TX | Registered: June 25, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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House panel backs bill allowing deadly force against intruders

Associated Press
February 23, 2006

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Whether they're breaking into a home or carjacking a vehicle, intruders would be fair game for armed Kentuckians under a bill that passed a legislative committee yesterday.

Rep. J.R. Gray, D-Benton, sponsored House Bill 236 on behalf of the National Rifle Association, saying people shouldn't be expected to avoid a confrontation by running away.

"If someone is trying to break into your home in the middle of the night and you've got a fear for your life ... you have a duty under present law to retreat, go to the farthest corner of the room, I guess, and hope the intruder doesn't try to shoot you while you're retreating," Gray said.

Court rulings going back to 1931 have said that people have a right to protect themselves, their families and their property, with deadly force if necessary, Gray said. His bill would put those rulings into state law, he said.

"If you're convinced that that person is about to use deadly force against you, then you have the right to strike back with deadly force," Gray said.

The House Judiciary Committee sent the measure to the full House for consideration despite efforts by opponents to derail it.

"I think it sends the wrong message to Kentucky," said Rep. Kathy Stein, D-Lexington. "I just think this sounds like we are encouraging people to shoot first and then ask questions later, and I just don't want to go that way."

In Indiana, the legislature is considering a similar bill that would make it legal for a person to use deadly force against someone breaking into their home or car when occupied.

The NRA is lobbying lawmakers in 13 states to make it easier for people to defend themselves with deadly force. The group, which has about 4 million members nationwide, wants legislation specifying that people have no duty to retreat from an attacker before using deadly force.

About half of all states have similar rules on the books.

NRA lobbyist Darren LaSorte said the measure has overwhelming support among voters in rural states like Kentucky.

But similar measures have faced opposition in other states, including Wyoming, where the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence has taken a stand.

James Brady, the former press secretary to President Ronald Reagan who was wounded in an attack on the president, called on Wyoming legislators in January to oppose the legislation.

NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam said so-called "no-retreat" legislation was signed into law in South Dakota on Friday.

"This is important because it gives victims of crime an option," he said. "When they are attacked, they can choose to stand their ground and fight. If they choose to stand their ground and fight, they will not have to fear legal repercussions."
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The link

Is self-defense law vigilante justice?

Some say proposed laws can help deter gun violence. Others worry about deadly confrontations.

By Patrik Jonsson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

ATLANTA - Instead of embracing a citizen's "duty to retreat" in the face of a physical attack, states may be taking cues from the days of lawless frontier towns, where non-deputized Americans were within their rights to hold the bad guys at bay with the threat of deadly force.

First enacted in Florida last year, "Stand Your Ground" bills are now being considered in 21 states including Georgia, according to the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The South Dakota senate approved one just last week.

These new measures would push the boundaries beyond the self-defense measures already on the books. Twelve states already allow citizens to shoot intruders in their homes, and 38 states permit concealed weapons in public places. The "Stand Your Ground" laws would allow people to defend themselves with deadly force even in public places when they perceive a life-threatening situation for themselves or others, and they would not be held accountable in criminal or civil court even if bystanders are injured.

Laws putting more judgment in an individual's hands stem from people's increased concern about crime in their communities. Proponents say it helps shift the debate from gun control to crime control, and that these laws are part of the rugged individualism of Americans.

"These laws send a more general message to society that public spaces belong to the public - and the public will protect [public places] rather than trying to run into the bathroom of the nearest Starbucks and hope the police show up," says David Kopel, director of the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo.

Some critics say such "Wild West" laws are vigilante justice, and commonplace confrontations and more likely turn to violence.

"You don't just broadly paint a new statewide law saying, if you're in doubt, go ahead and shoot and kill the other person," says Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington. "It's anathema to peace and calm in our communities."

Currently, Florida's new law is being tested for the first time. In Tampa, a tow- truck operator who shot and killed a man he said was trying to run him over used the "Stand Your Ground" law as a defense. The district attorney is evaluating other forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony that the shots came from behind, and therefore were not in self-defense.

To be sure, the laws challenge the notion of "duty to retreat" from attack upheld by many state supreme courts. Yet the US Supreme Court came down against the "duty to retreat" in a 1921 ruling.

In 2004, a National Academies of Science study was unable to draw any conclusions about whether owing a gun makes citizens safer.

About 35 percent of American homes contain some kind of firearm, according to Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University. Their research also shows that while there are 1.3 million gun-related crimes committed in the US each year, guns are used for self-defense 108,000 times in the same period.

Indeed, those lobbying for the "Stand Your Ground" legislation say the proposed laws are more symbolic, sending a powerful message to would-be criminals. These laws "make it very clear that the good guy has the advantage, not the bad guy," says Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association in Fairfax, Va.

However, many observers say the laws may promote gun violence as urban gangs could claim self-protection in the aftermath of shootouts. In Michigan this week, people protested a proposed "Stand Your Ground" law by wearing orange "innocent bystander" T-shirts. It came only a few days after an 8-year-old boy was killed in Detroit by a stray bullet from a gun fight.

"Stand Your Ground" laws could also change the way Americans deal with each other, some experts say.

"If you're in a state that's passed one of these laws, any time you're in a potential confrontation you'll have to think about the fact that, 'Will the fellow on the other side misunderstand my anger and pull out a gun?' " says Robert Batey, a law professor at Stetson University in St. Petersburg, Fla.
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Panel rejects bill allowing people to kill intruders

Feb 27, 2006

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A Senate committee on Monday rejected legislation specifically authorizing the use of deadly force against anyone who breaks into a home and physically threatens the occupant.

The bill would have written into the Virginia code the common law theory of self-defense. Del. John J. Welch III, R-Virginia Beach, said his bill would make it clear to Virginians that they have a right to kill an intruder who threatens bodily harm.

"To the average citizen, it's a pretty foggy area," Welch told the Courts of Justice Committee.

Henry County prosecutor Robert Bushnell, speaking for the Virginia Association of Commonwealth's Attorneys, urged the committee to reject the measure.

"The current law is not bright and clear because the world is not bright and clear," Bushnell said. "This bill is a license to kill."

Case law governing self-defense, Bushnell said, is built on "experience and reason."

Common law, or case law, is a system of law based on judges' decisions rather than statutes or constitutional provisions. Virginia's common law allows the acquittal of defendants who can prove they used an appropriate level of force while acting in self-defense.

In perhaps the most high-profile recent self-defense case, Caroline County cattleman and lawyer John Ames was acquitted of first-degree murder last September in the 2004 shooting death of a 74-year-old neighbor who came after him with a 3-foot stick. The jury in that case received detailed instructions from the judge on the standards Ames had to meet to prove self-defense.

Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, D-Richmond, said Welch's bill "would upset the whole body of criminal law" as it pertains to self-defense. Marsh's motion to kill the legislation was approved by an overwhelming voice vote.
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Hall also said it would reduce burglaries and home invasions.

If criminals "think they're going to get shot in the house, they're going to think twice," Hall said.

Am I just crazy or do you really think this will enter a robber's mind? I don't really think that a robber robs right now b/c he doesn't think that he will get shot.
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Bill gives citizens more latitude to defend themselves

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/03/06

Georgians would be able to use deadly force to defend themselves in public areas such as parking lots and sidewalks under a National Rifle Association bill that passed the state Senate on Thursday.

The measure expands state law which allows Georgians to use deadly force in their homes or vehicles. The Senate approved Senate Bill 396 by a vote of 40-13, and the measure now heads to the House.

"We already have a very strong law in the state of Georgia, but I felt a couple of pieces were missing from the puzzle," said state Sen. Greg Goggans (R-Douglas), the bill's sponsor. "This makes the law stronger for all the law-abiding citizens and victims in this state. This is about putting common sense into code."

Several Democrats, however, expressed concerns that the bill would open the door to more violence because Georgians would be freer to claim self-defense.

"This is a recipe for murder," state Sen. Regina Thomas (D-Savannah) said. "We are trying so hard in this state -- especially in Chatham County -- to reduce crimes of any nature." She also expressed concern that the measure could increase the number of hate crimes in Georgia. But Goggans argued there was no evidence that the bill would encourage an increase in such crimes.

The NRA has been pushing similar bills, called "castle doctrine" legislation, in several states.

"We believe this is good public policy," said Andrew Arulanandam, spokesman for the National Rifle Association. "It is designed to place the law in favor of the victim.

"Contrary to claims, all this bill does is provide victims an option ... to either stand their ground or not. When a crime occurs, victims don't have the luxury of time. With the passage of this measure, they will have more options available."

Goggans told colleagues the measure would change Georgia's current law in four key areas. The bill:

-Extends the ability of Georgians to use deadly force beyond their homes, vehicles, personal property and businesses into the public arena.

-Puts into Georgia code that law-abiding citizens have no duty to retreat if attacked, a matter upon which the law is currently silent.

-Grants immunity from criminal prosecution to those who justifiably use deadly force, unless they used an unlawful weapon in protecting themselves.

-Grants people who use deadly force immunity from civil actions.

Several groups, such as Georgians for Gun Safety, have argued in the past few months that the measure could lead to more violence and expressed disappointment with lawmakers following the vote.

"They didn't think or care about the danger that the public will face when people use deadly force to settle disputes in public places," said Alice Johnson, director of Georgians for Gun Safety. "The message is that you can use deadly force anywhere and there will be no repercussions."

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(Anyone notice where all these states seem to be located? Hmmm ...)

Posted on Fri, Mar. 17, 2006

Senate bill is self-defense vs. 'gunslinger' battle

JACKSON, MS -- A bill the Legislature sent to the governor Thursday would revise the state's "justifiable homicide" law to provide more protection for those using deadly force in self-defense.

Senate Bill 2426 would provide citizens using deadly force the presumption of innocence and take away the "duty to retreat" required in current law if you are threatened.

The bill, supported by the National Rifle Association, is similar to laws being pondered or passed by legislatures across the country.
Supporters call them "castle doctrine" laws; opponents, "gunslinger" laws.

Mississippians can defend themselves in their homes under current law, but supporters of the new bill say without a presumption-of-innocence clause, they are left open to criminal and civil action, often automatically being brought before grand juries after a shooting.

The new bill would also extend the self-defense rights to people's autos and businesses.

Opponents said current law is sufficient to allow people to defend themselves, and that the new bill would encourage the use of deadly force.
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Ky., Ind. ready to expand right to kill intruders

NRA presses issue in several states
By Deborah Yetter

The Louisville Courier-Journal
March 19, 2006

FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Kentucky is poised to join Indiana and several other states that have expanded people's right to shoot anyone they believe is threatening them.

Backed by the National Rifle Association, the measure became law in Florida last year and in South Dakota last month. Last week, it was approved by lawmakers in Mississippi and Indiana.

The Kentucky House and Senate have each passed a bill to enact the measure and are working to settle on a single version.

But versions of the bill have failed in states including Wyoming, Iowa and Virginia, among the 15 where the NRA has made its passage a priority.

Dubbed the "castle doctrine" by the NRA, the measure specifies that people have no "duty to retreat" -- or attempt to flee -- if they believe they are being threatened on their property or in their vehicle.

"Your home is your castle, and you should be able to protect it with any means necessary," NRA spokeswoman Ashley Varner said.

In Wyoming, the bill died when the legislature adjourned, said Rep. Jack Landon, a Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Some lawmakers believed Wyoming state law and court decisions already provide for people to defend themselves when threatened, he said.

"I think there was some concern that this was just going to give people an opportunity to shoot somebody and not be held responsible," he said.

A spokesman for Gov. Ernie Fletcher said Friday the governor supports the legislation and would sign it.

Backers of the law in Kentucky and Indiana acknowledge that courts in both states have supported the right of people to defend themselves with deadly force.

But they also said a law would make it more difficult to reverse that right.

"When judges make law, they can change law," said Indiana Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, sponsor of the Indiana's House Bill 1028.

"I think the citizens have a fundamental right to defend themselves, their families and their property, and this bill guarantees this right," he said.

Needed law?

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence derides the legislation as a "shoot first" bill and is working against the measure in other states.

Zach Ragbourn, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign, said most states already have laws that protect people who truly are acting in self-defense.

"This is not about self-defense," he said.

Some gun owners and enthusiasts disagree about the bill.

"This codifies that you are under no obligation to retreat if you are under attack," said Robert Pruden, a supporter of the bill and secretary and treasurer of the Kentucky Firearms Foundation.

Bill Fruchtenicht, a past president of the Kentucky Hunters Association, said people need to to protect their lives and family.

"But rather than shoot and kill somebody trying to steal my vehicle, I'd let them take it and file an insurance claim," he said.

Kentucky and Indiana

Rep. J.R. Gray, D-Benton and sponsor of House Bill 236, said he's confident either his bill or Senate Bill 38 will win final passage this legislative session.

"As long as it becomes law, I'm tickled," Gray said.

The law guarantees the right of people to protect their lives and their property by using deadly force without fear of being prosecuted or sued, he said.

The Indiana legislature passed a similar bill March 13.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Mitch Daniels said he plans to sign it.

Other gun bills

The deadly force measure is one of three bills expanding the rights of Kentucky gun owners that the NRA is backing.

Kentucky is an NRA stronghold where most lawmakers hold the organization's "A" or "A plus" rating for their votes on firearms legislation.

House Bill 290 would keep secret the names of people with permits to carry concealed weapons -- now public record.

It also would prevent the government from taking firearms from people in an emergency, as New Orleans officials did after Hurricane Katrina.

Senate Bill 12 would bar prosecution of people who carry firearms onto school property -- a felony under state law -- if signs forbidding it aren't properly posted.

Supporters predict passage of HB 290, which has passed the House and awaits final action in the Senate. But SB 12 is stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee amid opposition from school officials.

"People should not be carrying weapons on to a school campus," said Stu Silberman, superintendent of the Fayette County School System.

NRA influence

Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville and sponsor of HB 290, the concealed-weapons law, said he believes NRA clout with lawmakers will help win passage of his bill and the deadly force legislation.

"I think they're very influential," said Damron, an NRA member who supports all three bills and has an "A plus" rating from the organization.

But some lawmakers including Sen. Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, hold the organization's "F'" rating and oppose the bills, although they acknowledge they are in the minority.

"I'm proud of my rating with the NRA," said Neal, a hunter and gun owner.

"I'm not against the NRA," Neal said. "But a lot of positions they take are mindless."
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Page 1A

States allow deadly self-defense

Other legislatures consider bills on fighting back against attackers

By Richard Willing

Five months after Florida became the first state to allow citizens to use deadly force against muggers, carjackers and other attackers, the idea is spreading. South Dakota has enacted a similar law, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels plans to sign such a measure today, and 15 other states are considering such proposals.

Dubbed "Stand Your Ground" bills by supporters such as the National Rifle Association, the measures generally grant immunity from prosecution and lawsuits to those who use deadly force to combat an unlawful entry or attack. Several states allow people to use deadly force in their homes against intruders; the new measures represent an expansion of self-defense rights to crimes committed in public.

The NRA and other supporters say the bills are needed in many states that require people under attack in public places to withdraw from the situation, rather than retaliate, unless they can show their lives are in danger. "For someone attacked by criminals to be victimized a second time by a second-guessing legal system is wrong," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre says.

Critics, including the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, say the bills encourage vigilantism and would make it more likely that confrontations would turn deadly. Zach Ragbourn of the Brady group says the proposals "are more accurately called 'Shoot First' laws. They allow a person who just feels something bad is going to happen to open fire in public."

The idea that people should use deadly force only to defend their lives is rooted in English common law, author Richard Maxwell Brown says in No Duty To Retreat: Violence and Values in American History and Society. Another common-law principle, the "duty to retreat," requires people to avoid potentially deadly confrontations. The principles apply in many U.S. states. The duty to retreat generally doesn't apply in a person's home.

LaPierre says the NRA is targeting 29 duty-to-retreat states where people can be prosecuted, sued or both if they don't retreat from criminal attacks.

Ragbourn says the proposals aim to "fix a system that isn't broken. People aren't being thrown into jail for legitimate self-defense. There's no crisis here."

Florida's law could be facing its first test. Donald Montanez, owner of a Tampa tow company, is charged with murder for shooting a man who took back his car without paying the towing fees. Prosecutors say Montanez, who feared being hit by the driver, fired as the man drove off. Montanez's attorney, Roger Rigau, says the new law should protect Montanez.

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Panel urged to reject expanded deadly force

Manchester Union Leader
March 30, 2006

Concord -- Attorney General Kelly Ayotte called on members of a House committee to reject a bill that would expand the right to use deadly force.

She told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee that current law strikes a fine balance between individual rights and public safety. She noted that the law already puts the burden on prosecutors to prove its use was not justified. No criminal were filed after reviews of deadly force cases in Rochester and Manchester during the past year, she said.

Senate Bill 318 would expand deadly force justification to the point where bystanders on a public street could become innocent victims in shooting, while criminals who settle disputes with a gun could get away with murder, she said.

Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, said he sponsored the bill because, "it seemed to make sense to me to expand the use of deadly force to include whenever someone uses unlawful force against you."

He said current law requires a person to decide the level of threat an attacker poses, based on size, background, type of weapon.

"Months later, people look back and criticize their behavior," he said.

Ayotte's office and police chiefs oppose the bill, saying it could lead to more shootings and place the public in greater danger. A similar measure failed to make it through the House.

Current law allows a person to use deadly force when they or another are threatened with deadly force, to prevent a kidnapping or rape, in response to any unlawful force used during a burglary or during commission of a felony in one's home.

Except inside the home or yard, a person has a duty to retreat from deadly force, if he or she can do so with complete safety.

The new law would expand the law to make use of deadly force legal when someone uses unlawful force during commission of a felony in any place that a potential victim has a legal right to be, such as a street or parking lot.

Ayotte said an example would be the theft of a laptop computer. If a person grabbed a victim�s arm and took the computer, the victim would have a right to shoot the thief. Right now, that person can challenge the thief or surrender the computer and notify police. Under SB 318, two drug dealers in a dispute could end up in a justified shooting if one grabbed the other and stole his cash, she said.

Alan Rice, treasurer of the New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, said he worries that future attorneys general will not be as respectful of individual rights as Ayotte.

He dismissed fears that the state's number of shootings would jump under the proposed bill.

"Most normal, well-adjusted human beings would rather not take a life," he said. "You would feel the mark of Cain even if it were justified."

He rejected Ayotte's argument involving drug dealers, said it would be wrong to deny average people their right to defend themselves out of a fear that a "small minority of criminals" would abuse those rights.
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Alabama District Attorney Association opposes Nation Rifle Association's ''Shoot First Bill''

The Birmingham Times
Originally posted 3/30/2006

The Alabama District Attorney Association joined a Birmingham public policy group to oppose bills Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber called a ''license to kill.''

Across the country, mainly in the south, The National Rifle Association is sponsoring legislation it alternately calls ''Stand Your Ground, the Castle Doctrine, and Shoot First.'' In Alabama House Bill 1 and its companion, Senate Bill 283, claims to ''extend the right to self-defense'' by allowing anyone to use deadly force if they feel threatened by an aggressor intent on causing harm. The proposed law would grant civil and criminal immunity for arrest and prosecution when used in self-defense.

People United, a Birmingham think tank, said current Alabama law provides citizens all of the legal protection needed to defend your home and love ones. The propaganda the National Rifle Association is spinning is worthy of Gobbles, its 'The Big Lie'' that Alabamian must retreat in their homes before they can defend themselves. That is not and has never been the law of self defense in Alabama.

Barber said ''This is the worst legislation I have ever seen. It cheapens life . . . and will make law enforcement more difficult. Barber also said ''gang bangers will use this law'' to spread more violence, from the inner city to the suburbs.

Nationally only one state, Florida, has adopted the ''Shoot First'' legislation. Last month Wyoming rejected the same legislation.

HB 1 is in the Senate Judiciary committee. SB 283 is on the Senate calendar for a full house vote as early as Thursday; if passed the bill goes to the governor for his signature. Jackson said his organization will continue to lobby against the Bill and called on Governor Riley to support law enforcement and the Alabama District Attorney's Association's opposition to these bills by vetoing any bill passed that gives immunity to any and everyone who shoots first and asks questions later.''
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Kansans can meet force with force

By John Hanna - Associated Press Writer
Thursday, May 25, 2006

Topeka - A law taking effect today says that Kansans have no duty to retreat when attacked and can "meet force with force," but legislators disagree about its significance.

The new statute also declares that people who use justifiable force against a perceived attacker can't be prosecuted or forced to pay damages unless they use force against law enforcement officers.

Legislators tucked the self-defense measure into a bill that also contained provisions cracking down on street gangs, clarifying laws against drug paraphernalia and raising from $500 or $1,000 the threshold that determines whether fraud is a felony or misdemeanor.

Both chambers approved the measure overwhelmingly May 3, and Sebelius signed it Friday, even though she had misgivings about the self-defense provision, spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

"That was something bundled in with several other pieces of legislation," Corcoran said of the self-defense measure. "There were a couple of pieces that were important."

Supporters describe the self-defense measure as a "stand and defend" statute, or a "castle" law, after the notion that a man's home is his castle. Detractors have called it a "shoot your neighbor" proposal.

It's based in part on a Florida law enacted last year and in Oklahoma this year.

The new law declares that anyone engaged in a lawful activity, "anywhere such a person has a right to be" can use force to repel an attack.

It says deadly force is justifiable when people believe they or others are in danger of "imminent death" or "great bodily harm." Also, deadly force can be used to prevent someone from entering a home or occupied vehicle unlawfully.

"This does away with that duty to retreat to meet force with force," said sponsoring Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys. "It also gives you civil immunity against lawsuits as long as you use justifiable force."

Carlson sees the new law as a significant step forward in allowing Kansans to defend themselves.

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Vratil said the state's legal traditions already held that someone didn't have to retreat to use force.

He said even the language granting immunity from prosecution or lawsuits, while new, isn't likely to have much effect, because defendants have always been able to argue they acted in self-defense. He said he and others agreed to the proposal to placate conservative legislators.

"What we did makes them think they got something," said Vratil, R-Leawood.

The new law won praise from the National Rifle Association, and Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, a vocal gun rights advocate, said even if Kansas previously wasn't a state requiring someone to retreat, clarifying the law was valuable.
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