New Missouri law extends authorization for deadly force

| 7/16/2007

Gov. Matt Blunt has signed a bill expanding gun rights in Missouri. Dubbed the “Castle Doctrine,” the new law is intended to expand a person’s justifications for using deadly force in self defense beyond the traditional defense of one’s home.

Existing Missouri law justifies the use of deadly force only if people believe it’s necessary to protect themselves or others from death or serious injury.

The new law, previously SB62, gives people in homes – as well as car and truck drivers – wide discretion in the use of deadly force against intruders. People would be immune from criminal and civil actions for killing or injuring someone in self defense or in defense of other people.

It allows the use of deadly force against anyone who illegally and forcibly enters a dwelling or vehicle if the owner “had reason to believe” that a crime was occurring or had occurred. People no longer will be required to retreat from an intruder before using deadly force.

The rule change, which takes effect Aug. 28, will not apply during instances when the intruder is a law enforcement officer or when the resident or driver is committing such felonies as murder, robbery or rape.

According to the National Rifle Association, the Show-Me state becomes the 19th state to adopt similar rules.

Supporters say the protection gives the public another tool to stop home invasions, burglaries and “carjackings.” It also will put a stop to frivolous lawsuits against residents by criminals who are injured during the commission of a crime.

Opponents say the bill relieves people of too much responsibility for unnecessary violence. They say it is dangerous to presume that break-ins and burglaries are intended to inflict bodily harm.

The bill also eliminates from state law a requirement that people obtain permits from their local sheriff before getting a handgun. People still are required to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri in 2007, click here.