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Minn. Police, Attorneys Oppose Deadly Force Bill

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(credit: ThinkStock)

(credit: ThinkStock)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Key police chiefs and county prosecutors joined together on Thursday to urge Minnesota lawmakers to not pass legislation that would give people more freedom to use deadly force when protecting themselves.

The legislation creates the presumption that a person in their home or other dwelling who uses deadly force does so believing they are in danger of harm or death. The bill also removes the obligation for that person to retreat from such a situation. It’s headed for a full Senate vote soon.

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said at a Capitol press conference that the bill shifts the standard to use deadly force from the current “reasonable person” standard to a more subjective one.

“Under this proposal, it would become what is in the person’s mind as to whether they feel threatened,” Backstrom said. “That is the controlling factor. Not what a reasonable person would have done when facing similar circumstances.”

Champlin Police Chief Dave Kolb, representing the Minnesota State Chiefs of Police Association, said the legislation makes it easier to get away with murder.

“If a person on their own property murders another person, this bill creates a very large loophole for their defense,” Kolb said.

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said the bill would make serving warrants even more dangerous for officers. He held up a shield officers use when entering homes to illustrate how bullets can pass through it.

“I’ve lost officers at the front door on legal warrants,” Dolan said. “It is one of the most dangerous spots for law enforcement.”

Bill sponsor Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, said officers are already protected from shootings by law. She added that law enforcement reactions conflict with second amendment rights.

“It’s a little over the top that they think they’re the only people that can protect the public,” Hoffman said. “In a free nation, people protect themselves.”

Hoffman said she is confident the legislation will pass in the Senate with bipartisan support.

The House passed a companion bill last year with some language differences from the Senate bill. If passed in the Senate, the House will either concur with the Senate bill’s language and send the bill to Gov. Mark Dayton, or send it to a Conference Committee for reworking and then back to the Senate floor.

Dayton said last week he wasn’t sure if he’d sign or veto the bill, but mentioned that opposition from law enforcement officials would likely influence his decision.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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