Legislation expanding the state’s Castle Doctrine that establishes guidelines when a citizen can use lethal force in self defense cleared the House. The legislative initiative is almost sure to win quick approval in the Senate after lawmakers agreed to amend the bill with language endorsed by the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Association (PDAA). The Senate is moving an identical version of the House bill.

“We still think the law as it stands now is good enough and this [bill] is a solution in search of a problem,” said Richard Long, Executive Director of the PDDA. “But we’re pleased House members were willing to work with us and soften the language a bit.” The measure, HB 40, would remove a provision from the law that requires citizens to find a place of  retreat from their cars or on the street before using lethal force to defend themselves. The General Assembly approved the changes last year but it was vetoed by then Governor Rendell, who agreed with the PDAA that the change could lead to a “shoot-first-ask-questions-later” approach to self defense.

Under language endorsed by the PDAA, the changes in the Castle Doctrine would not apply in the following circumstances: if the person entering a home was another resident of the home; a law enforcement officer; a parent, grandparent or other guardian removing a child from the home or vehicle; when using a home or vehicle to commit a crime.