Most states in the Union have a “Castle Law” which grants citizens the right to defend themselves with firearms in the case that an unlawful intruder enters their home. Minnesota is no different. But when the state legislature voted to for a bill to strengthen those rights in favor of the homeowner, Governor Mark Dayton thought it was a bad idea and vetoed it.
The bill in question, HF 1467, would have given a resident significantly more latitude in the authorization of deadly force in the home as well as protection from unreasonable prosecution. The bill passed both houses, which is currently controlled by the GOP majority, but the vote count was insufficient to over-ride the Governor’s veto.
Governor Dayton explained his reasoning for the veto in a public letter issued to the Speaker of the House and published today. He said he was influenced by the majority of local law enforcement officials who expressed misgivings about the potential consequences should the bill have passed into law.
“The MN Police and Peace Officers Association, the MN Chiefs of Police, and the MN Sheriff’s Association represent the men and women who risk their lives every day and night to protect the rest of us,” the Governor’s letter said. “When they strongly oppose a measure, because they believe it will increase the dangers to them in the performance of their duties, I cannot support it.”
In addition to strengthening the homeowners rights, the bill would have recognized the carry and conceal permits from other states that issue them. Currently Minnesota accepts only a select number of permit types from states with similar permitting requirements.
Dayton’s letter acknowledged that he believed in the current state Supreme Court rulings that a homeowner in Minnesota is not required to retreat when faced with a threat in the home, but said that the bill presented went too far in giving the homeowner the benefit of doubt when faced with such a situation.
“Thus it appears clear to me that the existing Minnesota Statutes and law already provide the authorizations for law-abiding citizens to use deadly force to defend themselves or others either inside or outside of their homes, so long as that deadly force constitutes ‘reasonable force’.” The letter states.
“HF 1467,” the letter reads, “does go beyond current law by stating that an individual using deadly force would be presumed to possess a reasonable belief that there exists an imminent threat of substantial bodily harm, great bodily harm, or death to the individual or person. . .”
“That change from the current standard seems, to me, ill-advised.”
A story published today by MPRNews quotes State Senator Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergus, who was the author of the bill.
Says Hoffman, “I am very disappointed with Governor Dayton’s decision today to deny law-abiding citizens their right to defend themselves and their families. While current law enables the aggressor, my bill focused on protecting the victim.
“Unfortunately, with the Governor’s veto, violent criminals will continue to have the advantage over law-abiding citizens,” said Senator Hoffman. “I was hopeful, because Governor Dayton made such a strong statement on the campaign trail about Minnesotan’s right to bear arms and use them for lawful purposes such as self-defense, that he would follow through with his actions and sign this bill to enhance public safety.”
See the full article from MPRNews here: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/special/columns/polinaut/archive/2012/03/dayton_vetoes_g_1.shtml.
Executive Director of the NRA, Chris Cox, expressed disappointment in the Governor’s veto. In a public statement he expressed his concern that under current law, lawfully owned guns could be confiscated in the event of a state-wide emergency. An article in the bill would have prevented that from happening, Cox said.
An opponent of the bill expressed her relief in the Governor’s decision to veto.
Joan Peterson, Protect Minnesota board member and member of the Brady Campaign Board made the following statement.
“This bill could give the claim of self-defense to any domestic abuser engaged in a dispute with a partner or spouse. When only two people are involved in a dispute and one of them winds up dead, who is left to disprove the claim of the shooter that s/he was the one threatened? As someone whose sister was shot to death in a domestic case in Minneapolis, I am grateful that Governor Dayton vetoed this bill that could have allowed domestic abusers to get away with murder.”
Here is the Governor’s letter to the Speaker of the House. http://www.scribd.com/doc/84021149/3-5-12-HF-1467