Fri 4 Nov, 2011 10:51 pm
By Jason Stein of the Journal Sentinel
Nov. 4, 2011
Homeowners who shoot intruders would receive strong legal protection,
under a bill approved by the state Senate on Thursday and the Assembly early Friday.
The bill passed in the Senate on a bipartisan 26-7 vote and then was
returned to the Assembly. All Republican senators voted for the bill
along with nine Democrats.
The Assembly also passed the proposal on a bipartisan vote Tuesday,
but since the Senate tweaked the proposal Thursday, the Assembly
had to take it up again. Lawmakers in that house approved the Senate
change on a voice vote shortly after 5 a.m. Friday. GOP Gov. Scott
Walker has said that he supports the bill in principle but will still
review it before deciding whether to sign it.
Under the bill, courts in most criminal and civil matters would
presume that property owners using deadly force had acted
reasonably against anyone unlawfully inside their residence,
business or vehicle, whether the trespasser was armed or not.
The proposal is sometimes known as the "castle doctrine,"
a reference to the saying that one's home is one's castle.
The legislation is one of a slew of bills moving through the Legislature
this week as GOP lawmakers advance their agenda ahead of recall
efforts expected to start against Walker and state senators later this month.
On Tuesday, Wisconsin became the 49th state in the country to
legally allow people to carry concealed firearms. Republicans said
the castle doctrine bill was another step in helping law-abiding
residents defend themselves.
"People have the right to defend themselves and their families in
their dwellings," said Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), a lead sponsor
of the legislation and a former police officer. "The fundamental issue
is about protecting life, not property."
Some Democrats said the law was not needed and was being rushed
through unnecessarily to please gun rights groups.
"This day in the Senate is truly bought and paid for" by the National Rifle Association,
Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said.
A state group representing more than 600 criminal defense lawyers,
prosecutors, judges and academics also opposes the castle doctrine bill.
"AB 69 changes Wisconsin law by providing a defense for irrational
people armed with deadly force. Under its provisions, malevolent,
reckless, or paranoid people who shoot trick-or-treaters or
repairmen on their porches will be presumed to be acting in self-defense,"
reads a statement issued this week on behalf of the criminal law
section of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
The statement comes from a two-page memo sent to lawmakers by
Gregory J. O'Meara, an associate professor of law at Marquette
University and immediate past chair of the criminal law section.
"At present, no member of the criminal law section of the State Bar,
which is made up of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and
academics, can come up with a single case wherein a homeowner
was charged with a crime for defending himself or herself from a
home intruder," the memo reads.
Some district attorneys like John Chisholm of Milwaukee County and
Joe DeCecco of Sheboygan County have said Wisconsin, like most
states, doesn't need a castle doctrine bill because existing law
provides more than adequate protection for anyone legitimately
acting in self-defense.
Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said he has not
reviewed the particulars of the bill but that he supports the general concept.
Under existing law, a person can't seek to kill or wound someone
unless he or she reasonably believes it's needed to prevent the same
type of injury to himself or herself. Supporters of the bill say that
people in their homes or businesses don't necessarily have the time
to check whether an intruder is trying to hurt them.
The proposed immunity under the castle doctrine legislation
wouldn't apply to people who were using their homes or other
property for crimes such as drug dealing.
It also wouldn't shield a shooter who attacked someone who he or
she knew or should have known was a police officer. The Senate
approved on a voice vote Thursday a Democratic amendment to
offer that same legal protection to firefighters and emergency
[All emfasis has been added by David.]
I guess the burglars of Wisconsin shoud migrate to a more crime-friendly State, where its safer for them to work.
If I were a robber or a burglar,
I certainly want to work in a jurisdiction in which the most severe gun control existed,
for my safety on-the-job.