This goes against everything I was taught in gun safety and combat pistol training. It is wrong. It is stupid, and it risks escalating violence above current levels on both sides of crime - the victim and the perpetrators. Never mind what this is going to do to insurance costs.
I agree with the people interviewed in this article that the legislation presents in effect a moral hazard, while improving NOTHING.
From the KARE11.com:Police officers are given extensive training, they are given continuing training. They have legal authority that exceeds that of the average gun owner and home owner - for a good reason! This reflects the inherently more fearful, authoritarian, and violence prone traits that are associated with far right wing politics in academic research.
House panel approves deadly force expansion
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A bill expanding the legal use of deadly force in Minnesota passed the House public safety committee Thursday. The hearing drew a sizable crowd of spectators on both sides of the firearms issue.
The proposal aims to spell out the circumstances in which otherwise law abiding citizens can kill with impunity. It would create the presumption that anyone who enters a home without permission poses a deadly threat.
"It says you can meet force with superior force," Hamline Law School professor Joseph Olson, who heads a group known as the Gun Owners for Civil Rights Alliance.
"It says that you can go one step further or move up the continuum of force. That's exactly what police officers are taught to do."
We have those who claim to be against intrusive government, against bigger government, consistently expanding laws and government where no basis, no justification, no legitimate problem or cause exists to do so. That is NOT smaller government. What this does is make it easier for people to shoot other people. It improves nothing. If there were examples in Minnesota of home owners being treated unfairly, this would make some sense. Not good sense, but it would have a basis in reality that this lacks. But we have no such problem in need of a solution.Rep. Tony Cornish, R - Good Thunder, who formally authored H.F. 1467 in the House, couldn't name any examples of homeowners going to prison in Minnesota for shooting someone in self-defense.
Jim Backstrom has been the Dakota County Attorney for many years; he is very good at his job. By no stretch is he some liberal politician, nor has he ever been soft on crime. Rather he is a pragmatic, level headed man who gets things done in his office, and does them very well. The legislature would do well to listen to him.
Currently use of deadly force, even inside one's own home, must be justified by the threat of eminent bodily harm. Under the Cornish bill, those who kill intruders will be shielded from prosecution regardless of the what kind of threat they pose.
The definition of a "dwelling" is also expanded in the Cornish proposal to include the home, garages, porches, walkways, driveways, decks, yards, hotel rooms, campers, boats and tents."Do we really want the law to presume that a homeowner will have the right to shoot and kill and unarmed teenager who has entered the garage to steal a bicycle or other personal property?" Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom asked the committee.
"Do we really want to allow a driver who believes he's being threatened with substantial harm in a road rage incident to shoot and kill the other driver, rather than calling 9-1-1 or simply driving away?"
Opponents said the language is subject to many interpretations by homeowners trying to make split second decisions about defending themselves against intruders.
What is sometimes referred to as a moral hazard, a situation which encourages people to do something wrong or makes it easier for them to do so successfully."The danger is that the language is so confusing and so ambiguous that it could open up all kinds of ways in which people could shoot another person and get away with murder," Joan Peterson of Duluth told KARE.
Peterson heads Protect Minnesota, an organization that works against gun violence. She's also heads the North Star Chapter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She said currently a jury can decide whether lethal force was justified.
"If this becomes law some people will not ever have a jury trial. They will be allowed to go free and the victims and the victims' families will not have justice," she remarked. Peterson's own sister, Barbara Lund and boyfriend Kevin Kelly, were shot to death in 1992 in the basement of Lund's estranged husband.
Mankato's top law enforcement officer, Public Safety Director Todd Miller, spoke in support of the bill. He argued that private citizens need to be empowered to protect themselves when police can't be there.
"I do not fear a law abiding citizen, a law-abiding gun owner," Miller told lawmakers."What I'm concerned about are the gang members, the drug dealers, especially coming out of the state of Texas; the people who, whenever an incident occurs, people say, 'How did that person get a gun'?"
Most of the police officers who appeared at the hearing testified in opposition to the bill. Ken Reed, an assistant chief in the St. Paul Police Department, called the idea a "recipe for disaster."He noted that plain clothes officers, meter readers, delivery persons and other innocent citizens often enter property without permission.
If the police are against this, who are committed to pursuit of criminals and the greatest possible reduction in all kinds of violence ------- how good an idea IS this? It's a terrible idea."As an ex-homicide detective, to put the burden on me to try to investigate something like that with the language in this provision is darned near impossible."
Rep. Cornish, who has spent his career in law enforcement, said police expressed some of the same worries about the Personal Protection Act in 2003 which made it legal for citizens to carry concealed weapons in Minnesota, if they quality for a permit.
"A year or two from now we'll sit back and wonder what was all the fuss about," Cornish told fellow lawmakers.
The bill moves next to the House Judiciary Committee. There was no companion bill in the Senate as of April 28th.