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Bill Aims To Expand Rights To Use Deadly Force

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77648_Pat Kessler WEB Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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By Pat Kessler, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – The Minnesota Legislature opens hearings on a bill Thursday expanding the right of Minnesotans to use deadly force against intruders in their home, sometimes called the “Castle Doctrine.”

But it’s a bill opponents say could decriminalize some forms of murder.

Right now in Minnesota, if someone breaks into your home and you feel threatened with bodily harm, state law allows you to shoot the intruder to defend yourself.

This bill proposed at the Capitol allows deadly force not just against a violent attack, but also against an intrusion that may lead to a violent attack.

And not just at home but there are also provisions for defending against intruders in your car, boat or on a bicycle.

The bill’s author Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, said police often cannot respond quickly enough.
And he cites the case of a Woodbury rape victim who police said could have blown a whistle or sounded an alarm to scare off the rapist.
 
“You can’t rape a .38,” said Cornish, who is chairman of the House Public Safety Committee.

“People have got to learn to take care of themselves. Cops are wonderful and they’re good. They solve crimes, they come out and take pictures and make chalk drawings. But when it comes down to those few seconds between you or your assailant dying, you’ve got to be given the options of making that choice,” he added.
Opponents say expanding the laws on deadly force could result in more shootings and more death of innocent people, like meter readers or children pulling Halloween pranks.

Heather Martens, executive director of the group Protect Minnesota, said the law “decriminalizes some forms of murder.”

Martens, who called the bill “Shoot First,” said it would repeal current laws which say killing another person should be done only as a last resort and in defense of the self or another person.

“This bill allows shooting. Shooting whenever there is a perceived threat, even if the shooter or the person being defended could safely walk away,” said Martens.

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