Bill would change definition of ‘self defense’

    Critics say a bill aimed at broadening the right to self-defense would have unintended consequences, and make it harder for prosecutors to convict murderers.

    Critics say a bill aimed at broadening the right to self-defense would have unintended consequences, and make it harder for prosecutors to convict murderers.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091119sdhb40.mp3]

    Pennsylvania law justifies the use of deadly force in self-defense, but requires people outside their home or workplace to try and retreat first, if they think that’s safe and possible.

    A bill before the House would eliminate that provision, and reads a threatened person “has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use protective force, including deadly force.”

    Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico says if the bill passes, it would open up a loophole and allow drug dealers charged in shoot outs to claim a legitimate defense.

    Marisco: The defense attorney’s going to have a tool to raise, and that’s going to be that he didn’t have the duty to retreat, that he acted in self-defense. And we’ll have that guy-probably an illegal gun carrier – he’ll be acquitted and released back on the street to purvey violence, to provide more drugs. That’s what’s going to happen.

    An NRA statement says the bill “will reinstate the law prior to the time when criminal-coddling judges and courts started putting the rights of criminals before the rights of the law-abiding.”

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