Missouri bill would extend authorization for deadly force

| Wednesday, May 23, 2007

An effort to expand gun rights in Missouri has been forwarded to Gov. Matt Blunt’s desk.

Dubbed the “Castle Doctrine,” the House and Senate reached agreement on the bill, which is intended to expand a person’s justifications for using deadly force in self-defense beyond the traditional defense of one’s home.

Current 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 bill – SB62 – would give 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 would allow the use of deadly force against anyone who illegally and forcibly entered a dwelling or vehicle if the owner “had reason to believe” that a crime was occurring or had occurred.

The proposed rule change would not apply during instances when the intruder is a law enforcement officer or when the resident or driver was committing such felonies as murder, robbery or rape.

Sixteen states have similar laws. Missouri is one of eight states considering it now, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

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

Opponents say the bill would relieve 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 measure also would eliminate from state law a requirement that people obtain permits from their local sheriff before getting a handgun. People would still be required to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons.

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