Republican Senators propose lethal force bills
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Republican Senators propose lethal force bills

Date: February 12, 2007
By: Matt Tilden
State Capitol Bureau
Links: SB 62, SB 41

JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Judiciary Committee heard legislation on Monday night that, if passed, would allow Missourians to kill any intruder entering their residence or car.

Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, the sponsor of one of the bills, said he believes that current laws do not allow homeowners to adequately protect themselves from intruders because they are not allowed to act preemptively against those unlawfully entering their homes. 

"If I wake in the middle of the night in my house and find an unlawful intruder in the house, and I've got a wife and two little boys, I'm probably not going to wait for this intruder to do something aggressive," Goodman said. "I'm going to assume that because he broke into my house, that was his aggression."

Goodman and Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield, have each proposed nearly identical bills that allow anyone who reasonably believes that their residence has been unlawfully entered to use lethal force.  The bills propose that Missourians have "no duty to retreat" when faced with an intruder in their home attempting to commit a violent felony.

According to Joel Partridge, state lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, 15 states have enacted similar, "no duty to retreat" bills have across the country.

Goodman said that he did not want the bill to become "an overblown, shoot 'em up bill with potential for abuse" and deliberately removed controversial  provisions that had been in versions of lethal force bills in the past and in other states.

For example, the state of Florida passed legislation that many gun-rights activists dubbed the "Stand Your Ground" law in 2005 because of its unique phrasing.  It not only said that Floridians had "no duty to retreat" in the face of an intruder but also "the right to stand his or her ground, and meet force with force".

Six gun-rights activists testified in favor of the bill with no opposition present. 

Tim Oliver, a self-defense teacher and gun-rights lobbyist, said that he believes that by not having a "no duty to retreat" bill, the state misguidedly puts the burden of proof on the victim to prove their state of mind in an altercation with an intruder.

"A question of whether you can safely retreat is a question of foot speed, not law," Oliver said.