New self defense bill raises Pa. gun control worries

    The Pennsylvania gun control group CeaseFirePA wants Governor Rendell to veto the “castle doctrine” if the bill comes across his desk. The bill limits the need for crime victims to avoid conflict before using deadly force. CeaseFirePA and others worry it will be used as a ready-made defense for street shootings.

    A Pennsylvania gun control group is urging Governor Rendell to veto a bill that would expand a person’s right to use deadly force in cases of self defense.

    The “castle doctrine” bill removes the duty to retreat from Pennsylvania law, allowing people to defend themselves with deadly force when attacked.

    The Senate and House have both passed the measure on bipartisan votes, though the House needs to concur on the bill before it goes to Governor Rendell’s desk. Noting that the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association and other law enforcement groups oppose the measure, Joe Grace of CeaseFirePA is asking Rendell to veto the bill.

    “The governor, as a former prosecutor, an eight-year district attorney of the state’s biggest city – we think the governor understands the dangers of this policy, the recklessness of this policy,” Grace says. “And we believe and hope and call on the governor, with the state’s law enforcement community, to veto this bill.”

    Rendell’s spokesman says the governor hasn’t decided whether to sign or veto the bill.

    The DA’s Association warns the legislation makes it much more difficult to try murder suspects, and creates a “shoot first mentality” on city streets.

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