STATES ALLOW DEADLY SELF-DEFENSE
March 21, 2006
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," says the NRA's Wayne LaPierre.
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."
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.
Source: Richard Willing, "States allow deadly self-defense; Other legislatures consider bills on fighting back against attackers," USA Today, March 21, 2006.
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