Governor Tom Corbett has signed a bill to widen the right to use deadly force in self-defense. This misguided bill takes Pennsylvanians in the wrong direction when attention should be focused on gun violence plaguing communities across the state.
The bill would expand the state’s castle doctrine to allow the right to use a gun or other deadly force in self-defense in situations outside a person’s home or business. Previously, the use of deadly force was not justifiable if the person could safely retreat except when the threat is made inside his or her home or business. The bill’s backers, including the National Rifle Association, call the legislation a way for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from criminals.
Bill supporters portray the new law as a way to strengthen a citizen’s right under the Second Amendment to bear arms to defend themselves no matter where they are.
The castle doctrine is reasonable because it allows people to use deadly force when an intruder enters their home (i.e. castle).
It is a dangerous stretch of the law to extend the castle doctrine to porches, decks, vehicles, parks, and other public areas.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Phila., who voted against the bill, has it right when he says the proposal is going in the wrong direction.
“We need to be in the business of trying to curtail gun violence, not to loosen the reins,” Hughes told an Associated Press reporter.
Hughes is right. What we should be doing is finding more ways to get illegal guns off the streets and reduce gun violence and not expand the use of deadly force.
The expansion of the castle doctrine was unnecessary because Pennsylvanians already had the right to legally protect themselves if their lives were threatened.
What broadening of the law will do is increase the probability of more confrontations and more violence on Pennsylvania streets.