Legislative Position Paper & Support Request—HB 40
Castle Doctrine -Stand Your Ground
We request that you co-sponsor Rep Scott Perry’s HB 40, the Stand Your Ground bill commonly referred to as the Castle Doctrine. Currently there are 57 co-sponsors.
As you know, criminals are becoming bolder; home invasions are becoming more common and our law enforcement officers are being murdered on our urban streets by recidivist offenders. Law abiding citizens are forced to defend their family and themselves with baseball bats, golf clubs, or whatever they have available to them at the moment of attack. With the downturn in the economy, many local police departments are being downsized while other police departments are being eliminated all together, due to the deterioration of their community’s tax base. State police resources are stretched as evidenced by recent moves to charge policing fees to communities believed able to afford them.
To add insult to injury, if a constituent is fortunate or lucky enough to successfully defend themselves and in the process causes injury to a law breaker, that law abiding citizen could easily become the target of a civil lawsuit! From whom The criminal! Yes, a citizen – maybe even you! – could become a victim again, paying attorney fees to defend yourself once again, except this time, you’ll have to defend yourself against the very government that currently denies needed legal protections and is not legally obligated to protect you! You may be forced to “pay restitution” to the attacker for alleged “diminished capacity to earn a (dis)honest living”. How equitable is that! If you or someone in your family is ever attacked by a criminal HB 40 would afford immunity from civil suits regarding yours or your loved one’s use of force to protect oneself.
Under HB 40 citizens would have no legal duty to retreat when confronted by criminals. Under HB 40 citizen’s can protect their family and property in a life or death situation, without fear of being prosecuted in court for using force to stop criminal acts. Note that HB 40 has been specifically crafted so there are no allowances for criminal intent. Any illegal activity on the part of the property owner or legal resident would nullify any legal defense. Also included, is a provision that does not allow for challenging the legal authority of law enforcement, nor does it allow “a shoot first ask questions later mentality”. It grants citizens the authority to stop a crime when it is occurring in front of them that places them in danger of serious bodily harm or death. HB 40 also gives notice to repeat violent criminals that crime will no longer be tolerated by citizens who refuse to be their victims.
A note on similar bills from past sessions:
• HB 2231, was approved by an overwhelming majority (151-42) in a special house session in Sept 2006, but died before the House and Senate could take formal action.
• HB 641, in the 2007-08 session wasn’t brought up for a vote in the judiciary committee despite overwhelming citizen support and numerous promises from leadership for a straight up or down vote in that session during the debates on HB 1845.
“Stand your ground” bills have been enacted in numerous states over the last several years. We must have such statutory protections in Pennsylvania!
Thank you for your consideration and support; please join 57 of your colleagues as co-sponsors of this important legislation
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