Wednesday, April 13, 2011

PA House Passes Castle Doctrine Bill

Governor Rendell Vetoed Similar Bill Last Fall

The Pennsylvania House voted 164-37 in support of a Castle Doctrine bill sponsored by state Representative Scott Perry, a Republican. The bill permits the use of deadly force without first having to retreat anywhere a citizen has a legal right to be if he feels his life or safety is in danger, reported the Harrisburg Patriot-News.

Current law allows for the use of deadly force inside a person's home. This measure expands that right to include vehicles, workplaces and other public areas. Critics, like the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, argued that the bill could be used by criminals as a defense and that it would invite more violence.

According to the Patriot-News, the bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration. A similar measure by state Sen. Richard Alloway, a Republican, was approved by the Senate last month.

Last year the General Assembly approved a similar Castle Doctrine bill, but it was vetoed by then-Governor Ed Rendell. At he time Governor Rendell said, "The bill as passed encourages the use of deadly force, even when safe retreat is available, and advances a 'shoot first, ask questions later' mentality." The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Rendell went on to say, "I do not believe that in a civilized society we should encourage violent and deadly confrontation when the victim can safely protect themselves."

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