Castle Doctrine Bill Sent to Governor

HARRISBURG – The Senate today approved legislation supported by Sen. Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson) that would expand the Castle Doctrine in Pennsylvania, sending the bill to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

House Bill 40 would protect gun owners who act in self-defense by removing the “duty to retreat” clause when an individual is threatened by an attacker in any place that individual has a right to be, including his or her home or vehicle. The bill would provide important protections against criminal prosecution or civil litigation for those who act in self-defense.

“Law-abiding citizens should not have to fear prosecution when they protect themselves and their families from criminals,” Scarnati said. “This measure, which only needs the governor’s signature to become law, will protect responsible gun owners and ensure that their Second Amendment rights are preserved.”

The General Assembly passed legislation expanding the Castle Doctrine in 2010 by an overwhelming margin, but then-Governor Rendell vetoed the bill. Governor Tom Corbett has voiced support for expanding the Castle Doctrine to protect law-abiding gun owners.

Under House Bill 40, an individual would need to demonstrate a reasonable belief that he or she was in imminent danger in order to use lethal force. The legislation was amended to ensure that the Castle Doctrine applies only to individuals who legally possess a firearm, and the legal protection for gun owners does not apply if used against a peace officer.

The bill also includes tougher penalties for individuals involved in trafficking stolen firearms.

State Representatives Marty Causer, Kathy Rapp and Matt Gabler also support the Castle Doctrine.


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