Legislation that would expand the circumstances under which a citizen could use deadly force in self defense (the Castle Doctrine) cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The most controversial provision in the measure changes the Castle Doctrine to allow someone threatened with injury to use deadly force without looking for a safe place to retreat as is the case under existing law. The state’s District Attorney’s Association opposes the legislation saying it could create a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach among armed citizens. Former Governor Rendell took a similar position and vetoed a nearly identical bill last year.
Supporters, though, insist the changes are needed for citizens to protect themselves not only on the streets but in their homes and vehicles.
“Under the bill, an individual would need to demonstrate a reasonable belief that he or she was in imminent danger in order to use lethal force,” said Richard Alloway, R-Adams, the sponsor of the bill. “The bottom line is the bill would provide important protections against criminal prosecution or civil litigation for those who act to defend themselves, Alloway said.
The changes to the Castle Doctrine are almost certain to make their way to Governor Corbett as the Republican-controlled House likewise supports passage. The Governor has said he will sign the bill into law.