Bill Aims To Expand Rights To Use Deadly Force

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.

More from Pat Kessler
  • captainobvious

    If i didnt invite you in my home or car or boat, then why are you in there, im for this bill because me and my family and friends are decent people therefore it doesnt effect me unless i have to shoot some1.

    • C Jensen

      Living in fear because there are REAL things to fear in todays world. New law or not, some dips&*t mofo breaks into the house where my wife and kids sleep, theyre getting shot.

    • Robert

      Oh, yes, only white guys do that…

    • Anita Newhouse

      Consider a child sneaking into a house at night to exscape a threat-perceived or real. Should this child die for their attempt at securing themselves that startles you? Long-range contingency planning is what Good lawmakers do…………these are not even adequate.

      • KP

        You are an idiot!!

        • KP

          Yes you Anita

        • denouement

          your an idiot!

      • hb

        … what?

      • Tom

        The bill won’t stop that from happening in your scenario. Either way the person could die. If I am faced with a life or death situation, I am not going to be thinking:” Hmm now let me think, what does this law say?” That would be the furthest thing from my mind

      • kodi98

        Are you saying a child walking down the street feels there is a threat and sneaks into my house to avoid said threat? When has that ever happened? If the homeowner is smart they will put their back in a corner, call police, and announce loudly that they have a gun and will use it. At that point the person in the house better respond or leave, if they continue towards the homeowner then all I have to say is make sure they’re dead.

      • Flatsguide

        That has got to be the dummist thing that has ever been said.

      • Yushi

        Newhouse? I think you Nita Newbrain.

      • Allison

        what are you talking about? when has anybody ever snuck into somebody’s house that they don’t know to escape a threat? I know that if you sneak into my grandparents house you’ll get shot, however everybody who is supposed to be there knows how to avoid that.

      • dj

        I have never seen a report of a child BREAKING IN to a home AT NIGHT to elude a percieved threat. Perhaps you could strengthen your case by citing a few instances where this has happened; and:

        a) the homeowner mistook the child for an adult–Teenagers the size of an adult would not fit here
        b) the attacker did not pursue the child into the home

        Incidentally, “murder” is the intentional and unlawful taking of a human life. Self-defense generally removes “unlawful” from an event.


      • Ed

        Anita: if a child is sneaking into a house, he better darned well have a good reason to be there and make his presence known.
        “Children” commit violent crimes these days too, and yes, if that “child” doesn’t belong in the house, he must be considered a threat.
        I second the motion put forth by KP: Anita, you are an idiot.

    • Ira Shlamazel

      Idiot. You already can shoot to defend. The thought of you personally owning a gun is chilling, since you choose to not pay attention. That is why this is such a stupid plan.

  • disgusted

    Yet another Republican solution in search of a problem.

    Do something worthwhile GOP!!!

    • Norge

      Obviously your children have never been molested or kidnapped, your daughters raped or your wife murdered while you waited for your 12 minute and 37sec average response time AFTER you dialed 911. A true to form liberal who only wishes to create a safer working enviorment for murders, rapists, child molesters and other Bill Clinton wannbe sexual predators. Disgusted must be a member of NAMBLA. Of course they are also persecuted by the GOP and disgusted probably thinks they should be a ‘protected class’ of people also. Disgusted is one sick puppy, in search of an excuse to blame the Right for, well….being right.

      • Seraphim0

        because most children are kidnapped when they are with their parents who have access to a fire arm. Because most daughters of a youthful age have access to firearms to use this bill. Because a woman (or man) would never mistakening shoot someone to death in a fit of panic because they are encouraged to “shoot first.” Because these shootings would be justified 100% of the time.
        Now that we have sarcasm out of the way… as a Democrat who favors gun rights, this will open the door for too many accidental shootings done in the midst of panic. Not all people who end up at the wrong house, or knocking on a window are there to break in or harm someone. Additionally- people who argue for safety while alone- having a gun doesn’t make that safety automatic. Having training does. Learn to use the weapon safely, take some courses, and get a permit to carry. At least then the likelyhood of you panicking and murdering someone you thought was ‘coming right for you’ that was merely jogging by is less likely.
        Also… Norge, you really need to get out of the “only republicans are worthwhile people! Any liberal is a draft dodgiing hippy who wants to put us in danger!” rhetoric. I served in the US Army- gladly. I love my country, and I believe in our rights. I believe in strict punishments for breaking the law, not slaps on the wrist. And, Ihave republican friends. The problem with this country is hyperpartisanship as you so eagerly displayed in your post. Maybe if people would be open to other points of view and the idea that they are NOT 100% correct all the time, we could actually get this country back on track and out of the hole BOTH parties have dug for it.

        • jay crandall

          Hurray! Common sense is getting more scarce every election cycle! Don’t care about the “Dem/Rep stupidity” I just want the idiots to meet in the middle!!!

    • sumday

      I think they are- they are trying to give citizens the right to protect themself not only from danger but from lawsuits too. I personally think that is worth while, but I suppose your rather them talk about something like gay rights that only effect a small percent of people huh?

    • Jake

      Actually, they ARE. This bill is long overdue. I REFUSE to be
      a prisoner in my own home.

      • skier_rick

        You already are, read Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault.

    • tom

      they are, they are giving the people the right to protect themselvs

    • Doc

      What a STUPID thing to say!, ‘disgusted’!
      If you don’t believe in the right of self-defence, fine!! Don’t, though, try to deprive anyone else of that right, unless, of course, you can guarantee everyone’s safety from all ‘threats’.

  • 45ACP

    Its hard to pull the trigger I know this all to well. And if I were in that sitution again I would do the same thing again.What would a meter reader be prowling around your house at 1030 at night! what would a teen be doing out at 230 in the morning peeking in windows. if they are, they are up to no good. I think responsable gun owners can tell the differance and know when to use deadly force!

    • holly

      I believe the meter reader portion was intended to apply to the “car, boat or on a bicycle” part of the article. Nobody is trying to accuse meter readers of snooping in your house. I think reasonable gun owners who cant tell the difference between paragraphs probably do not know when and when not to use deadly force.

  • U.S.A.

    I dont think you are smart enough to even hold a gun without shooting yourself in the foot, go back to your blow up obama doll!

    • Dave

      They make those?

      • Norge

        They sure do…to be thoroughly representitive, they are designed so the harder you blow, the more he sucks!

        • Liberal gun owner

          I am in support of this bill, however, the idea of a cosmic accident seems more plausible after reading these comments.

  • MJ

    It’s the economy (of Minnesota) STUPID!

  • jas

    where are my comments?

  • jas

    I am being censored.

  • larry

    This bill will make crooks think twice about breaking into someone’s home or beating the crap out a person on the street! Hope it passes

    MANY states have had the same bill for years without problems.

    • M B

      This I agree with. For too long crooks have felt that they can run carte blanche with no fear of reprisal. The thought of having to stare down the barrel of a gun will deter a good number of them.
      Then there are the violent ones who are going to try anyways. Better to be safe than sorry.

    • Anita Newhouse

      Not true. Texas and Louisianna are the only other states that have similar laws. They have not been around for years If they did have incidents, would we EVER hear about them? I rest my case.

      • KP

        Try looking up the home invasion cases. Esp in Texas. There have been many, all with good outcomes. A few of the intruders or their families have tried to sue the homeowners. Really you want to sue the person whos house you broke into and threatened their family? Some people need to practice safe sex…

      • cookdd

        Of course we would. The bleeding hearts would have it plastered all over the news and papers. The truth is that these laws have been proven to make people safer. All of the these fears of “accidental” or “in the heat of the moment” shootings have been proven to be unfounded. Don’t believe me look up the facts. I’m sorry if the truth doesn’t comply to your views, but it is still the truth. Giving honest people the right to protect themselves has never caused an increase in crime period.

  • OIFV79

    Once again some people making comments without having read the proposed bill.

    It makes it harder for criminals to get firearms, prohibits unlawful confiscation of firearms (like they did in New Orleans) during the aftermath of Katrina. (People still are having issues getting there firearms back if they do not have a receipt showing they purchased the weapon).
    If you read it, it clearly is not a “SHOOT FIRST” bill. Currently if you protect your family and use force against a criminal who is putting you or your family in danger of “Great Bodily Harm”, there family’s could sue you in a Civil case. This would protect you from doing so. Also now you have a duty to retreat, “due to case law only”. This would allow you to stand your ground. MN has always been behind on laws like this. Bottom line, we need to follow suit and have the same rights as most other states in the country.


    • jeff

      Exactly, read the god damn bill.

      • Dave

        Well said, but anti-gun nuts hate logic like that.

    • Look at all the stupidity!!!

      You know if you do not like the laws that are in the books in MN about things like this, you do have the right to move to a different state. If you do shoot someone for breaking into your house then there should be a good reason for it. How many cases can you think of where the owner has gotten in trouble for a justifiable shooting? If you do research this, you would find very few in the state and even if the laws change there is always going to be the exception to the rule. Hence why they call it an “exception”.
      The 2nd part of this is not the law itself. It is the fact that all GOP candidates that were elected said nothing about the laws that they are trying to pass but said a lot about the budget and jobs. Name 1 thing that has happened with either of these. Thought so, you can’t because they are not doing it. Dayton even had to give them a deadline so they would get to work and stop screwing around with this stuff. This is what makes me mad, cannot speak for the rest of the posts here though.

      I do want to thank you for backing up your comments though. The link saves the post. Not very many people do this and it makes the argument a solid argument instead of just saying “this is dumb” or “way to go we need this”.

      Last thing, the last part of your post does take away from it as personal attacks never gain trust. Therefore the info that you just gave will only reach a few people, the rest will look at your CAPS rant and just say that you are yelling for no reason like most of the people that post here. Just food for thought.

  • Pork Chop Guy

    The only defense is meter readers or Halloween pranksters getting shot?
    That is funny.

  • tuna-free dolphin

    This is a good law. I shouldn’t even need a law stating that I can defend myself with deadly force if I need to. Especially in my home. Not that I would hesitate to do what I needed to do anyway, law or no law. Actually, it’s offensive to me that anyone feels that the state grants me that right. The rights of government are granted by the people it serves, not the other way around.Still it would be good to see it on paper so that our leaders remember who serves who.

    • Norge

      Agreed, Tuna, the Rights of Man are derived from their Creator, not from any government, but the socialist tyrants do not get this as they do not believe in a Creator, according to them we are all just a cosmic accident so we can just make stuff up as we go. If there was ever any doubt as to the meaning of the 2nd Amendment Thomas Jefferson, as its author, cleared it up entirely when he wrote in his biography; “No free man shall ever debarred from the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves from the tyranny of govenment.”
      The first statement establishes the Creator given Right of the castle doctrine. The second statement is stern warning to the government to NOT interfere with the first. Of course this is actually way beyond the intelligence level of most liberals, but to those who know the Bill of Rights, or Jefferson, it is self-evident.

      • M B

        First of all, trying to preach to me about religion and the creator right off the bat only tells me that you are just as bad as those you decry as being unintelligent.

        This isn’t a religious argument, and I thank you very much to not try to make it one. You’re using the Bill of Rights (the parts unrelated to freedom of church event) as a religious platform, and I find offense with it. You’ve done nothing but make yourself look like a religious eccentric and shot yourself in the foot.

        Now, The Constitution’s right to bear arms does NOT give you to use those arms on your fellow man at will. At some point a shyster lawyer has convinced a jury to pay a criminal who got himself shot in the commission of a crime. Once that happens, More shyster lawyers use that case as law. It’s called, unsurprisingly, Case Law. That’s what this bill seeks to control. The argument as to whether a lawyer should have taken the case at all is valid, but not in this story.

        Although I am surprised that the case law even existed because I thought that Minnesota already had a law that stated that you couldn’t sue over injuries received while committing a crime…

        • KP

          Yeah it amazes me that someone had the acorns to sue someone they robbed because they hurt them in the process. Either defending themselves or another. It’s all about money…

        • ME

          From the DoI, on how rights come from the Creator:
          “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…,”

          “a law that stated that you couldn’t sue over injuries received while committing a crime”
          This isn’t about preventing a civil lawsuit, it’s about preventing a DA from bringing criminal charges against a victimized homeowner.

  • CJC

    No wonder we are a divided nation. As soon as one’s political affiliation is revealed the attacks begin – from both sides. Why not debate the bill for what it is instead of jumping into attack mode. It will only get worse through 2012. Thanks morons!

    • Norge

      Yep, you are right, it will get worse as most people can absolutely not, ever, ever, ever admit that the phiosophies they have clung too for decades is wrong, no matter how overwhelming the evidence. (Evidence= Milton Friedman Kenysian Economist who is STILL employed by the NY Times, also advises Obama, big surprise). Others still cannot come to grips with the fact that the party has left their value-stream and cling to notion that they are being loyal to the memories of their parents or something. I grew-up fortuantly, and as I was raised a Truman/Kennedy Democrat, I am now of course a Tea-Party Republican, though I must admit I did vote for Carter….once, then saw him get a lot of my service buddies killed through the incompetent leadership of his admisnistration. When he had Andrew Young start negotiations with Yassar Arafat and the PLO I realized the treasonous left (ala Hanoi Jane and John Kerry) had hijacked the DFL and turned into the party of Stalins useful idiots. When the Tea-Party Repubs fail to balance the budget and slash taxes, curtail the powers of the Federal government and do not enforce our borders, then I will leave them also. America is too precious to be wasted by die-hard political loyalty to those who betray us.

      • jay crandall

        Norge: No offense man, but you should probably loosen the tinfoil you have wrapped around your head- The Space Alien/gods of Chtulu went home last month…It makes your comments look like something a crack monkey banged out on a typewriter during a three-day bender. I find it incredibly hard to not fall over laughing at your rants.

  • Look at all the stupidity!!!

    1s again they will not let people respond to posts. Way to go WCCO and edit things that have no foul lang. or anything that could be offensive. Your lack of allowing free speech is ironic for apparently being part of the press.

    • jas

      my comments were clean, maybe could be viewed as offensive? maybe not enough people to comment against the proposed bill.

  • er

    @MDillion grow up!

  • CJC

    Identify target as stranger, give clear command to leave, fire away if they don’t. Pretty simple, eh? When it comes time to give a statement, the person refused to leave and posed a threat. Not my fault if they were drunk or didn’t understand tthe command to leave.


    Poor research to WCCO on this article – As the current law stands, with having the so-called ability to use deadly force, in TRUTH, it is up to the DISCRETION OF ANY PROSECUTOR whether or not they CHARGE the HOMEOWNER with ASSULT or MURDER – even if the intruder attacked you AND ONLY IF THEY WERE IN YOUR HOME – not your property, half-way through your broken window/door, carrying a gun, etc.
    This 50/50 opportunity only applies if you DON’T KNOW the intruder – the odds are less favorable to you if the “intruder” is someone you know/knew; pretty much guaranteeing some sort of charge against you.
    It is difficult to fathom that this state doesn’t already have this new law on the books.
    Seriously people – if someone breaks into your car or home, points a gun at you or attempts to attack you, are you really going to keep a straight head, & take the time to ask: “Are you here to do me &/or my family intentional harm?”

  • Norge

    The looney-left out in force here, opposed to this and trying to create a safer working enviorment for all the child molesters and kidnappers and other pervs whom they so desperatley adore.

    • jas

      How can anyone oppose this? The need to feel helpless? I dont get it. Nice way to put it, safe working enviornment. OHSA approved.

    • Dave

      But if we shoot all those people, who will they get to vote for them?

  • Needs a gun

    Can I use knives or chainsaws? or a nail gun? I don’t have a gun… :(

    • Phil

      Yes, you can use a chainsaw of a nailgun, but you must be wearing earplugs and safety goggles.

  • Keven

    This law would prevent lawsuits from criminals being shot by homeowners when they can prove they were not threating the homeowner with harm. Many suits were filed and won by the crooks.

  • Your_Mom

    I’m a proud liberal, like and voted for Obama, am Catholic, pro-choice and a supporter of the NRA. I support this bill.

    Don’t mistakenly think you know the hearts and minds of all “liberals.” If you don’t want to get shot, don’t break into my home. Simple.

  • John

    A bill that’s long overdue.

  • Rusty Shackelford

    “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.

    To me, this translates into a scenario in which will only be defended in a court of law if the shooter uses the firearm during a break-in or during a robbery.
    What about trespassing, stalking, and/or damage to property, which can be precursors to violence and robbery?

    • Debbie

      There are way too many people, the herd needs thinning.

  • Wallace Johnson

    Stand Your Ground:

    HF 1467 would remove a person’s “duty to retreat” from an attacker, allowing law-abiding citizens to stand their ground and protect themselves or their family anywhere they are lawfully present. It would create a presumption that an individual who forcefully or stealthily enters or attempts to enter your home or vehicle is there to cause substantial or great bodily injury or death, so the occupant may use force, including deadly force, against that individual. It would also expressly allow an individual to use force, including deadly force, to prevent a forcible felony, and it provides protections against criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits when justifiable force is used.

    Universal Recognition:

    Currently, Minnesotans’ carry permits are only valid in 15 states. Unfortunately, Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety has not sought out any additional reciprocity agreements. By adding the proposed language, Minnesota will recognize every state that offers a carry permit and drastically improve Minnesotans’ abilities to carry in other states. The proposed language would also require Minnesota’s Department of Public Safety to enter in to reciprocity agreements.

    Emergency Powers Reform:

    The proposed language would prohibit any government agency from confiscating or regulating the lawful possession, carrying, transfer, transportation and defensive use of firearms or ammunition during a state of emergency, such as occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana.

    Permit-to-Purchase Reform:

    HF 1467 would increase the statewide validity of the permit from 1-year to 5-years. Additionally, it would provide an improved process for Minnesotan’s to appeal denials

    • M B

      I think this is a great law. I encourage Congress and Gov Dayton to support it as well…
      Thank you for laying out the facts for people. Apparently they didn’t want to read the bill themselves.

  • tara

    blow a whistle?? that actually kinda pisses me off. I wake up in the middle of the might and someone is in my house, they are going down, it is me or him at that point and I got more to lose than some loser home invader. this country really must stop babying criminals

  • swizzle

    people who feel the need to carry guns are cowards, they are unable to defend themselves using thier minds and they lack situational awareness training. Instead they cling to thier guns as if they will solve all thier problems, lmao.
    Every state that has concealed carry has NO drop in the crime rate, this is a fact.

    • BGS

      You are a frigging moron!!!! What are you going to do, talk a criminal who’s already broken into your house into leaving politely without hurting you or stealing anything……YOU are the coward-grow a pair and stand up for what’s your and protect those you love from nut jobs that have no concern about you or your families welfare….IDIOT!

    • alan

      Nothing like some situational awareness to overcome a crackhead with a stolen firearm. Guns are the great equalizer. A gun allows a 95 pound woman to defend herself against a man triple her size. A gun allows a man the chance to fend off multiple attackers in order to protect his family. In addition, crime rates in concealed carry states have seen tremendous reductions in crime across the board. Nice try silly swizzle, try agiain.

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