In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, the Republican state representative backs Pennsylvania's self-defense law.
The Pennsylvania Castle Doctrine would not provide for protection of someone to do what has been reportedly done in Florida. The stand-your-ground component of our law would require—if you’re not in your home or vehicle or place of business—if you are out and about and you believe that your life is threatened, then the person threatening your life has to have some type of a weapon to do it. You can’t just claim self-defense and pull the trigger. The criminal element has to have a weapon that they could use to inflict bodily harm and ultimately seriously hurt you in order for you to use deadly force.
Did you support that provision of the law last year?
Well, that was part of the package. It was part of what we had negotiated. There are situations where, you know, if somebody’s being mugged by multiple individuals that don’t have weapons but they’re gonna bootstomp ’em into the ground, that boot could be a weapon. But then you still have self-defense within the law, so those sections of the law might come into play where Castle Doctrine might not.
Are you satisfied with Pa.’s Castle Doctrine law as it currently stands?
Castle Doctrine was a huge step forward for law-abiding citizens to be able to use firearms to defend themselves from the criminal element. Pennsylvania is a safer place to be because of the [expanded] Castle Doctrine. Since it was signed into law, we’ve had situations that have been reported across the state where law-abiding citizens have been able to protect themselves and have been protected by Castle Doctrine.
Florida’s governor [Rick Scott] says he plans to look at his state’s Stand Your Ground law and see if it’s appropriate as written, or if the application of the law has been abused. Do you expect a similar reassessment of Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine in the coming months?
No. From the situations that have occurred since Castle Doctrine has passed, it’s clearly evident that Castle Doctrine is making Pennsylvania a safer place to be. People can protect themselves without fear of the criminal, and without fear of future lawsuits from whomever those might come from if they do have to use force to protect themselves and their families and their property.
Letters to the Editor