I can indeed find some new language in this year’s castle doctrine, as opposed to last year, but so far I don’t see anything that should give us cause to withdraw support for the bill or seriously worry ourselves:
(2.3) Â An actor who is not engaged in a criminalÂ activity, WHO IS NOT IN ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF A FIREARM andÂ who is attacked in any place where the actor would have aÂ duty to retreat under paragraph (2)(ii), has no duty toÂ retreat and has the right to stand his ground and use force,Â including deadly force, if:
The section in all caps is new. For most of us who are carrying firearms legally, this isn’t an issue.
(2.4) Â THE EXCEPTION TO THE DUTY TO RETREAT SET FORTH UNDER PARAGRAPH (2.3) DOES NOT APPLY IF THE PERSON AGAINST WHOM THE FORCE IS USED IS A PEACE OFFICER ACTING IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OFFICIAL DUTIES AND THE ACTOR USING FORCE KNEW OR REASONABLY SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THE PERSON WAS A PEACE OFFICER.
This is new in this section. Without context it’s hard to explain, but I will try. In last year’s bill, you could not use the presumption set fourth that deadly force is justified against someone unlawfully and forcefully entering your home if that person was a peace officer performing his official duties. In a way it’s kind of redundant, because presumably a peace officer is lawfully entering a home, and if a peace officer were unlawfully entering a home, then that wouldn’t be part of his official duties, would it? This years bill adds that same provision to anywhere you have a legal right to be. My opinion is this is a feel good provision. Obviously a peace officer who’s in the process of, say, unlawfully raping a woman, isn’t “acting in the performance of his official duties.”
(d) Â Definition.–As used in this section, the term “criminal activity” means conduct which is a misdemeanor or felony, is not justifiable under this chapter and is
the proximate cause ofRELATED TO the confrontation between an actor and the person against whom force is used.
You can see where last year’s language was struck and replaced with the language in caps. This is probably the language being talked about by the DA’s association. My guess is they were concerned about the burden of proving proximate cause, rather than just having to prove a relationship between the crime and the need to use deadly force, which is a clearer standard. I don’t seriously object to this change.
The rest of the bill is identical to last years, including the civil immunity provisions. My feeling is the changes promoted by the DA’s association are relatively minor and are a reasonable concession if in return they drop their opposition to the bill. The DA’s association no doubt came to the table because they realized something was likely going to pass this session, and decided it was better to get some minor concessions than continuing to tilt at windmills.
That has probably been why this bill has moved so quickly and been voted on so overwhelmingly. Without the DA association’s objections to ride on, opponents of Castle Doctrine don’t have much political cover for their opposition, so they caved. I think the changes outlined were small concessions to make in order to get this bill to move quickly and get cleanly through the legislature.