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Thread: Self-defense 'Castle' laws gain ground

  1. #1
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    More signs of the trend toward the expansion of our 2A rights (or the lessening of legislated constraints, as you wish)...

    The NRA's nationwide push for Castle Doctrine laws and immunity provisions is reaping good results. These results,the product of much NRA and state-level advocatelobbyingare good for all legal and responsible gun owners and users.

    And bad news for criminals.

    Self-defense 'Castle' laws gain ground

    By Chris Joyner, USA TODAY

    BYRAM, Miss. — Kathy Adkins moves from target to target, firing with deadly efficiency a .38-caliber revolver and then a 9mm semiautomatic pistol at human-shaped targets.
    Adkins, 48, owns a real estate firm in nearby Jackson and has been taking firearms training since March. Instructor Cliff Cargill says she's among the new students he has racked up since the Legislature passed a law last year giving citizens expanded legal rights to protect themselves in their homes, cars or businesses.

    The "Castle Doctrine " law removes the requirement that citizens first must seek a safe retreat from an intruder before using deadly force. Similar laws have passed in 19 other states in two years, in large part because of lobbying by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

    A recent spate of shootings in Jackson, the capital, has reinvigorated public discussion of the law. In one week in late September and early October, four Jackson homeowners fired shots at four suspected burglars. Two of the suspected intruders were killed and a third was injured.

    Only one of the homeowners in those shootings — a convicted felon who is not allowed to own a firearm — faces criminal charges. Jackson police spokesman Cmdr. Lee Vance says virtually every local news account about the shootings mentioned the Castle Doctrine law.

    "Whether it was a factor … or not, it's getting a lot of credit," he says.

    Loaded questions

    That's what critics of the law and anti-gun advocates are afraid of. They say it promotes violence and weakens police powers.

    Peter Hamm, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says the measure bucks a long trend in American law toward reduced public violence dating back to the taming of the West.

    "Do we want to kill every 16-year-old kid we find stealing a car stereo?" he says.

    The NRA says the principle behind the law is more basic.

    "We want to make sure that in America the right to self-defense continues to exist and that the American citizen's home remains his castle," says NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre.

    Stories behind statistics

    While it might be too early to tell if the laws have had an impact on justifiable shootings, FBI statistics show 241 justifiable homicides by private citizens in 2006. That's a 23% increase over the previous year, but that is fewer than the 247 killed in 2003 before the NRA push began. Overall, Department of Justice records show a 13% decrease in justifiable homicides over the past decade.

    Mississippi isn't the only state making news over the Castle Doctrine law.

    Last week, Joe Horn, 61, of Pasadena, Texas, shot and killed two men that he told a police dispatcher were burglarizing his neighbor's home, according to a transcript of the tape.

    Bill Delmore, legal services bureau chief for the Harris County District Attorney's office, says it is too early to speculate.

    "One issue is going to be whether the so-called Castle Doctrine law applies to a neighbor's home," he says, adding that the state has other laws governing self-defense and the protection of property that might apply. A grand jury will decide if charges will be filed against Horn.

    Also in Texas, the Associated Press reported in September that Dallas musician Carter Albrecht was shot and killed when he tried to kick in the door of his girlfriend's neighbor. The shooting happened just days after the state passed its Castle Doctrine law.

    Dallas police Sgt. Larry Lewis says no charges are being pursued against the shooter.

    Mike Snider, a Dallas concert promoter who knew Albrecht, says Albrecht had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend and might have banged on the wrong door. "There is no excuse for blindly shooting a gun in anyone's direction," he says. A number of people convicted of killings in Arizona are attempting to get their cases reheard by claiming the Castle Doctrine law in their state should retroactively apply to them.

    Arizona lawmakers passed the law last year, then approved another measure over the summer that applied the Castle Doctrine statute to earlier cases. Gov. Janet Napolitano, however, vetoed the bill on the grounds it would reopen too many cases.

    Advocates for retired Arizona schoolteacher Harold Fish were behind the measure. Fish was convicted in 2006 of shooting a hiker Fish claims attacked him on a rural trail two years earlier. Fish was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison. His case is being appealed.

    In all, the Brady Campaign has noted at least nine shootings they believe to be inspired by Castle Doctrine laws or prosecutions complicated by them.

    In one 2004 Kentucky case, where James Adam Clem beat to death a man to whom he owed drug money, prosecutors offered him a manslaughter plea. Clem claimed he felt threatened by the man after he let him into his apartment.

    Prosecutors say they offered the deal fearing the state's Castle Doctrine law would confuse a jury.

    George Washington University law professor Robert Cottrol says the Castle Doctrine law is a more incremental change than either side of the gun-control debate wants to admit. Realistically, he says, prosecutors have not been eager to prosecute people who truly act in self-defense.

    "There is a fundamental feeling on the part of many that the aggressor should not profit and the person who is defending should not be held in legal jeopardy," he says.

  2. #2
    Regular Member ChinChin's Avatar
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    A positive article on the NRA?

    Que Doug Huffman in 5. . .4 . . .3 . . .2 . .
    The problem with the internet is nobody can really tell when youre serious and when youre being sarcastic. Abraham Lincoln

  3. #3
    Campaign Veteran deepdiver's Avatar
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    The part I especially like about the Castle Doctrine laws is that criminals or their relatives can't come back and sue you if you harm or kill them in a commission of a crime. That they ever could is ludicrous! That single factor applies to everyone who might be a crime victim. I have read stories of burglars getting hurt in the process of committing a crime by falling through ceilings or roofs, or falling off things, etc. and then suing and winning against the home owners and their insurance companies. That is just craziness.

    Reasonable people are not itching to go out and kill other human beings just because. Unreasonable people are going to go out and do unreasonable things regardless of the law. I think of the Castle Doctrine laws as a self-defense indemnity insurance policy rather than a license to be violent.
    Bob Owens @ Bearing Arms (paraphrased): "These people aren't against violence; they're very much in favor of violence. They're against armed resistance."

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