Friday, July 8, 2011

Wild West Pennsylvania

Last week, Gov. Tom Corbett approved the expansion of the Castle Doctrine, which allows citizens to use deadly force against an attacker at any place where they have a legal right to be. It also limits civil liability for people who act within the guidelines.

Before, the use of deadly force was not justifiable if the person could safely retreat, except when the threat was made inside his or her home or business.

Every member of the state Legislature who represents Luzerne County voted for the bill except for state Rep. Phyllis Mundy, D-Kingston. She called the law a "defense attorney's dream" and predicted violent criminals will try to use it in court.

"As far as I'm concerned, this was a solution in search of a problem and in the long run it's going to be detrimental to law enforcement and the prosecution of violent criminals," Mundy said.

During hearings on the bill, she said she asked sponsors to point to one instance of a person in Pennsylvania ever being prosecuted for legally defending themselves.
In other words among the Pennsylvania gun-rights folks they don't believe in the expression, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

There was not one single instance of someone being prosecuted becasue the old law wasn't broad enough. Nevertheless, it's broader now.

They keep saying it's not a license to kill or permission to shoot first, but what exactly is it then? How can they say no obligation to retreat is compatible with shooting only when absolutely necessary?  Wouldn't retreating be one of the ways to avoid having to shoot?

Of course, the macho men who push these laws can't accept that. Backing down to scumbags, no way. The righteous never back down. They've got god and the constitution on their side.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. I love Right Wing hypocrisy. The same people who are screaming in defense of Justice Prosser in Wisconsin, trying - futilely - to claim self defense when he went into one of his rages and laid hands on Justice Bradley, fail to acknowledge that Bradley had the right to at least some physical aggression to remove Prosser from her office, where he was tresspassing.

    Prosser had a duty to retreat. Under castle doctrine, an extension the common law self defense tradition, it has been the person who has the right to be present that is required to retreat when threatened, if that is an option rather than violence, particularly lethal violence, in self defense.

    What appears to be less well known is that the person who does NOT have the right to be on the premises has lesser rights of self defense; they have the greater duty to retreat if they are in a place they shouldn't be, and cannot legally claim self-defense if they are rightfully threatened by a home owner (or as in the case of Justice Bradley, the lawful tenent of her own office/chambers). There are legal traditions relating to interference with a person, or with property that also figure into this.

    The upshot is, we have a long legal tradition that requires one or both parties to retreat rather than shoot the other person, or otherwise harm them.

    When it is one of their political assholes, like Prosser, who is notorious for going into rages, the right calls for the resignation of the victims - in the Prosser case, the resignation of Bradley and Chief Justice Abrahamson, but not Prosser who was right wing but in the wrong.

    Funny how hypocritical they are about being able to inflict violence on intruders who are threatening, when it isn't one of their own, but not when it is someone known to be partisan to their side. Under this kind of Castle Doctrine expansion, Justice Bradley could have shot Justice Prosser for not leaving her office and for possibly battering her.

    Wouldn't THAT have posed an occasion for political contortions, had Justice Bradley SHOT Justice Prosser - to apply castle doctrine to a real life event, instead of the usual gun nut fantasy version of castle doctrine. Because one of the few UNDISPUTED facts in the Prosser / Bradley dispute is that Prosser was in Bradley's chambers, and that he had been asked (repeatedly) to leave, and refused to do so.

    Ahhhhhhhhh, Castle doctrine, this is so unnecessary, but it does play well to the right wing paranoia.

  2. During hearings on the bill, she said she asked sponsors to point to one instance of a person in Pennsylvania ever being prosecuted for legally defending themselves.

    Duh, perhaps they were prosecuted for illegally defending themselves instead. Yes, no one has been prosecuted without charges being pressed for breaking a law. Got me there.