This was on WREG News Channel 3 today in Memphis.
class="sectiontitle"Posted by Andy Wise
style="font-size: 14px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);"The 'Stand Your Ground' defense style="font-size: 9px; color: rgb(0, 0, 0);"var wn_last_ed_date = getLEDate("Aug 13, 2007 7:41 PM EST"); document.write(wn_last_ed_date);Aug 13, 2007 06:41 PM
MEMPHIS, TN -- With a legal handgun carry permit and a clean criminal history, there is no limit to how and where you can kill someone in self-defense in Tennessee, according to a Shelby County judge.
Shelby County Criminal Court Judge Chris Craft says the state's new 'Stand Your Ground' law, which went into effect May 22, not only gives "persons (with gun carry licenses) who are not engaged in criminal activity"limitless power to kill in self-defense, but it also strips criminals of their rights to self-defense, even against other criminals.
"Hopefully, there will be a lot less drug-dealers killing each other...a lot other people who won't be, particularly gangs, that are shooting at each other," Craft says. "They won't be able to claim self-defense because they are breaking the law."
"For the person who does not have a permit and is illegally carrying a gun, there is no more self-defense as I understand this statute," says Marvin Ballin, a Memphis criminal defense attorney.
Under the law, Tennessee citizens who own guns but no carry permit may only use the guns in self-defense when they are inside their homes.
The law allows law-abiding citizens with state handgun carry licenses to use deadly force in their homes, out in public, even in their cars. In fact, the only significant limits the law puts on a law-abiding citizen to defend himself is when the perceived threat is a law-enforcement officer or someone who is carrying or transporting a child.
"It draws the line between permit-holders and non-permit-holders," says Kristen Bauer, a certified shooting instructor at RangeUSA (http://www.rangeusa.com) in East Memphis, "and helping, you know, divide that difference between good and evil."
The law also saysit will"...provide immunity from civil liability for a person who uses lawful force in defense of self, others or property..." In short, a private citizen could not be sued by an attacker or the attacker's family if the attacker is hurt or killed by the citizen'slawful act of self-defense.
"Now wereally have a way to protect ourselves and not worry about legal court issues coming up later," says Bauer.
At least one self-defense expert saysself-defense legal immunityhasbeenthe law in Tennessee for eight years. Tom Givens, owner and firearms trainer at Rangemaster (http://www.rangemaster.com) in East Memphis,points to the Good Samaritan Act of 1999. The law, amended to state code dating back to1975, says any "...person who is injured while committing a felony...is barred from recovery of actual or punitive damages..."
"As far as a criminal being able to sue you for injuring him while attacking you, it's already Tennessee state law," says Givens. "He can't do that."
Yes he can, says Mike Roberts. Roberts, an attorney and law professor who was once the handgun instructor for the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, says immunity from civil liability is unconstitutional, and state law cannotguarantee immunity to citizens.
"Immunity statutes are struck down left and right everyday," says Roberts. "The constitutional question is that people have the right of access to the courts. You can't ban me from being sued just because (I lawfully killed someone in self-defense)."