In another story where politicians and public safety officials are at odds, a “self-defense” bill that has passed the Virginia State Senate has set off alarms among the law enforcement profession.
Proponents of the law say the bill simply expands the circumstances on which “good people” can defend themselves. Others claim the law is a basically an invitation for violent criminals to kill with impunity
Sen. Gretchen Hoffman sponsored the “Defense of Dwelling and Person Act” which passed on a bipartisan 40 to 23 vote.
The Virginia House passed a similarly expansive Castle-doctrine law last year.
“This bill is about the good folks,” said Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, a former county sheriff, at a Capitol press conference.
Hoffman says she’s aware of the concerns from law enforcement people that the law could get cops killed but she’s done trying to convince people.
“There’s not much more I can do,” she said, speaking at Capitol press conference.
Here’s what the law says according to the Home Town Source web site: Besides placing restrictions on the confiscation of firearms by law enforcement in times of emergencies, it requires state officials to honor concealed carry gun permits issued in other states as long as the permits remain valid in the jurisdiction where they were issued.
When it comes to the use of deadly force, the bill allows defenders to meet perceived threats by applying superior force until the threat has been neutralized.
Like similar legislation being passed all over the country, supporters say the Virginia law was crafted so that citizens can “stand their ground” instead of retreat from real or perceived threats.
The bill also creates the legal presumption an individual using deadly force has a “reasonable belief” that imminent threat of substantial bodily harm or death to themselves or others exists.
Self-defense standards applicable in the home would extend to cars, hotel room, campers, tents, elsewhere, under the bill.
The bill’s applicability would extend into schools and churches which raises obvious questions about when school children would be justified in using deadly force to keep a bully at bay.
Sen. Barb Goodwin is not a fan of the law.
“What the bill does is promote vigilante justice,” she said.
“This is just unbelievably crazy.”
Law enforcement associations, such as the Minnesota County Attorneys Association are against the bill.
Sen. John Harrington, a former St. Paul Police Chief, said the legislation is a threat to police officers and the public.
Police officers are always trained to use the minimum amount of force in responding to force, Harrington explained. Civilians are more likely to shoot first and ask questions later.