Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pennsylvania Commonsense Self Defense & Gun Legislation

Back in November the Pennsylvania State legislature passed Castle Doctrine legislation and sent it to Governor Ed Rendell (D) who promptly vetoed it.

Essentially, the law stated you had every right to defend yourself with deadly in your own home, that you did not have to retreat to the wall, without fear of prosecution. That was already accepted but unstated. Legally, retreat to the wall before defending yourself was official. The legislation would have changed all that.

But it went much further. It extended Castle Doctrine rights to any place you had a right to legally be with a handgun. You would now have been able to defend yourself without fear of prosecution, or lawsuit from the attackers family or the attacker (if he survived) and had no duty to retreat before doing so if you were able to retreat. Keeping in mind, of course, that you believed you or your loved ones were in imminent physical danger.

This concept is more commonly referred to as Stand Your Ground but the legislature continued to call it Castle Doctrine. Tat isn't really important.

The ramifications of this change in law would have been huge. People like myself who carry a weapon regularly have always had it in the back of their mind that, if they were attacked, there was a good chance WE could be prosecuted for defending ourselves. Even if we were ultimately found innocent, the legal fees to get there would have been crippling and it would not have precluded a wrongful death or injury lawsuit from and award to the perp or his family.

Well, Fast Eddie wouldn't agree to this thinking, that you should be able to defend yourself without being labeled the bad guy.

Then, Tom Corbett was elected. When the new session took office the legislation was immediately reintroduced and it rapidly (well, as rapidly as anything can move through a state legislature) passed through The Pennsylvania House and Senate.

Corbett signed it into law on Tuesday.


Pennsylvania Governor Signs NRA-Backed Castle Doctrine into Law

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fairfax, Va. - Governor Tom Corbett has signed Pennsylvania Castle Doctrine legislation into law. This common-sense measure permits law-abiding citizens to use force, including deadly force, against an attacker in their home and any place where they have a legal right to be. It also protects individuals from civil lawsuits by an attacker or attacker’s family when force is used.

Pictured left to right, Sen. Rich Alloway, Gov. Tom Corbett, NRA-ILA
Pennsylvania State Liaison, John Hohenwarter and Rep. Scott Perry“Gov. Corbett and Pennsylvania lawmakers know that law-abiding citizens must have the right to protect themselves when criminals attack without fear of being second-guessed by an overzealous prosecutor,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action. “Crime victims don’t have the luxury of time when confronted by a criminal and must be able to count on the law being on their side. This new law accomplishes that by removing any mandate of forcible retreat.”

The NRA has led the nationwide movement to pass Castle Doctrine legislation, beginning with Florida in 2005. Pennsylvania is the 27th state to adopt this important measure with overwhelming bipartisan support. House Bill 40, sponsored by Rep. Scott Perry (R-92), passed by a 164 to 37 margin. Richard Alloway, II (R-33), sponsored the companion bill to HB 40, Senate Bill 273, which passed 43-4.

“I am very gratified that Governor Corbett has signed this legislation into law, correcting the grievous error made by the previous administration in denying these long-sought protections to our citizens,” said Rep. Perry. “There are many people who have worked hard to get this legislation to this point, and I am grateful to my House and Senate colleagues and to the National Rifle Association for their support. The time has finally come to return common sense and good judgment to state government, and this legislation is a step in that direction. A criminal should never have an advantage over a citizen who abides by the rules of decent society, and today, we finally achieved the goal of returning the right of self-defense to the law-abiding.”

"Law-abiding gun owners should not have to fear prosecution for acting to prevent a violent crime," said Sen. Alloway, who introduced Castle Doctrine legislation that was approved by the Senate in March. "I am thankful that the General Assembly has taken action to protect responsible gun owners who respond when facing a serious threat from a criminal. I would also like to thank the NRA for their strong leadership and hard work on this effort as it moved through the legislative process.”

“On behalf of NRA members and all gun owners in Pennsylvania, I would like to thank Rep. Perry; Sen. Alloway; and Gov. Corbett for their leadership in helping make Castle Doctrine a reality for Pennsylvanians,” concluded Cox. “This Castle Doctrine bill places the law on the side of law-abiding gun owners who unfortunately become victims of crime – exactly where the law should be.”


a quick note: a big hat tip to Snowflakes In Hell, and excellent Pennsylvania gun blog, for both this and the story below.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I looked online for roughly 30 minutes before finding out here that the castle doctrine bill actually passed.
The law is common sense, and as you stated, often used in court. Now it's official. Thank God.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, great article. Thanks for explaining in plain english!