Earth Notes
9:11 am
Fri January 27, 2006

Legislature Moves to Expand Right to Shoot to KIll

Phoenix, AZ – Current law already allows the use of deadly physical
force by individuals to prevent certain crimes like
murder, rape, kidnapping and arson. The proposal
approved Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee
would expand that to say that people can shoot to kill
any time a person illegally and forcibly invades
someone's home or car. The concept is called the castle
doctrine, taken from the old saying that a man's home
is his castle. Rep. Russell Pearce said the change is
necessary to ensure that people don't feel they need to
retreat if confronted in their own homes.

(I don't think if I'm in my own home I have to flee
from anyone. There are some folks that will. And there
are different level, not recreate emotion. And I can
tell you, if I'm a big guy and breaking into somebody's
home and she's a 90-pound little 4-foot-11 gal, she
shouldn't have to fight me off or flee. She has the
right to do that. If she chooses to do that, that's
always an option. But you know what? That ought to be
their option.)

But the no-retreat idea in cases of home invasion
bothered Rep. Ted Downing.

(The first option in life should be you don't have to
stand there and make a principle of law of blowing
somebody out the back door. If you've got the front
door, go out it. I understand holding the principle,
defending your property, standing your ground.
Testosterone doesn't have to rule the world.)

Dave Kopp, president of the Arizona Citizens Defense
League, said the proposal is needed to help restore
what he said is the presumption of innocence of people
who kill intruders. But Kopp said the legislation is
not an unlimited license to use a gun. He said some
existing requirements on use of deadly force would
remain in the law books.

(You can't just shoot somebody because they walked into
your house. And that doesn't change. Before you pull
out a gun and use it, you had better know what you're
doing and why you're doing it.)

A more far-reaching proposal awaits debate in the
Senate. It would spell out in state law that hen a
person claims he or she killed someone in self defense,
no matter where that occurs, it is up to prosecutors to
prove otherwise. Now the burden falls on the person who
did the shooting to prove it was justified.
That provision has alarmed prosecutors. Rick Unklesbay,
chief criminal deputy Pima County attorney, said it
could result in people getting away with murder.

(Especially in gang cases. I mean, my God, everything
in gang cases is self defense because, you know, he
looked at me like he was going to do something, or he
threw a gang sign at me and I knew that was going to
mean he was going to be coming at me with a gun or
something. I mean, these guys claim self defense every
time they get up in the morning.)

Unklesbay said prosecuting these cases would be nearly
impossible because there usually are only two witnesses
-- and one of them is dead. But Sen. Tim Bee said it is
wrong to force people who protect themselves to prove
to a judge or jury that their actions were justified.
As to Unklesbay's claim that criminals would go free,
Bee said that 45 other states already have similar
laws. That measure is set for hearing next month. In
Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard
Fischer.