Archive for Thursday, May 25, 2006

Kansans can meet force with force

May 25, 2006


— A law taking effect today says that Kansans have no duty to retreat when attacked and can "meet force with force," but legislators disagree about its significance.

The new statute also declares that people who use justifiable force against a perceived attacker can't be prosecuted or forced to pay damages unless they use force against law enforcement officers.

Legislators tucked the self-defense measure into a bill that also contained provisions cracking down on street gangs, clarifying laws against drug paraphernalia and raising from $500 or $1,000 the threshold that determines whether fraud is a felony or misdemeanor.

Both chambers approved the measure overwhelmingly May 3, and Sebelius signed it Friday, even though she had misgivings about the self-defense provision, spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said.

"That was something bundled in with several other pieces of legislation," Corcoran said of the self-defense measure. "There were a couple of pieces that were important."

Supporters describe the self-defense measure as a "stand and defend" statute, or a "castle" law, after the notion that a man's home is his castle. Detractors have called it a "shoot your neighbor" proposal.

It's based in part on a Florida law enacted last year and in Oklahoma this year.

The new law declares that anyone engaged in a lawful activity, "anywhere such a person has a right to be" can use force to repel an attack.

It says deadly force is justifiable when people believe they or others are in danger of "imminent death" or "great bodily harm." Also, deadly force can be used to prevent someone from entering a home or occupied vehicle unlawfully.

"This does away with that duty to retreat to meet force with force," said sponsoring Rep. Richard Carlson, R-St. Marys. "It also gives you civil immunity against lawsuits as long as you use justifiable force."

Carlson sees the new law as a significant step forward in allowing Kansans to defend themselves.

But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman John Vratil said the state's legal traditions already held that someone didn't have to retreat to use force.

He said even the language granting immunity from prosecution or lawsuits, while new, isn't likely to have much effect, because defendants have always been able to argue they acted in self-defense. He said he and others agreed to the proposal to placate conservative legislators.

"What we did makes them think they got something," said Vratil, R-Leawood.

The new law won praise from the National Rifle Association, and Sen. Phil Journey, R-Haysville, a vocal gun rights advocate, said even if Kansas previously wasn't a state requiring someone to retreat, clarifying the law was valuable.


tolawdjk 11 years, 6 months ago

Yeah, I'm sure the thugs are, right now, going "Ah damn, they gots us. Well I suppose I should reform my life now. It was a good run while it lasted. I think I will be a virtual school bus driver."

billybeanbag 11 years, 6 months ago

Violence begets violence, yet when will the violence end.

--a dirty hippie

Jamesaust 11 years, 6 months ago

This is pretty much what existing Kansas courts have already held to be the standard.

The only worrisome part of the law is the protection from "criminal prosecution." Unlike normal speakers of the English language, this law defines "criminal prosecution" so broadly that it includes even arrest, detention, and arraignment.

As a result, law enforcement will be required to investigate matters fully before detaining suspects. Expect the host of criminal sickos out there to learn the new ropes quickly and to start claiming right out of the gate that their victims in some manner attacked them and that they were merely defending themselves. That'll buy them the necessary time to dispose of evidence or even flee the jurisdiction.

Janet Lowther 11 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure what other communities this provision was aimed at, but Lawrence was certainly in the legislature's sights: I understand that every single person who has used a gun in self defense in Lawrence in the last twenty-five years or so has gone to jail.

The DAs here have second guessed people defending themselves for decades, and somehow managed to sell juries on their questionable theories.

pundit 11 years, 6 months ago

Senator Vratil is correct but JamesAust points out an interesting nuance.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 6 months ago

You mean to tell me that I DIDN'T have the right to self-defense before? That's insane.

If some dude comes climbing through my bedroom window at night, I'll dial 911. The phone is in the kitchen, near my German knives, which are on the counter, above the drawer where I keep both of my cleavers and some very sharp cookie-cutters. Sure, I'll call 911, but then "it's on". The cops better drive really fast. I also have two surly cats. Dude picked the wrong window.

mooseamoose 11 years, 6 months ago

I bet certain people are praying so they have an opportunity to shoot an intruder.

"Oh Lord, please let someone break in tonight so I can shoot a lowlife scum in the face. In Jesus' name. Amen."

mooseamoose 11 years, 6 months ago

OldEnuf - especially if they're talkin on a cell phone right? Then you should double stab them!!

mooseamoose 11 years, 6 months ago

Now if we can just have back our right to stone to death sinners!!!

O Lord how long shall we wait?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 6 months ago

Why are there so many jabs at faith being associated with this topic? There is no connection here. Is there an implication that if some rapist comes climbing through my window that my faith requires me to sing hymns to him in hopes that he finds Jesus before he penetrates my wife?! NO. He's going down. HARD. "Turn the other cheek" doesn't apply to my child's butt cheeks, understand?

tolawdjk: this is not about preventing crime. This is about victims having rights. When the day comes that we have a cop car sitting with the engine running on every street corner in Lawrence, then calling 911 will meet all our security needs. Until then, we have the need for self defense.

All jesting aside: The horror of the memory of having to kill another person, even if "justified", would be hard to shake off; but I could live with that a lot easier than I could live with the idea that I lost a loved one because I hesitated to act. If someone comes through a window, I only need to ask "what will keep my family safe" and then I'll choose that path in full confidence, confident that I need not fear prosecution for simply wanting safety. This is a "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" issue.

anonimiss 11 years, 6 months ago

"Legislators tucked the self-defense measure into a bill that also contained provisions ... raising from $500 or $1,000 the threshold that determines whether fraud is a felony or misdemeanor."

Does that mean a fraud of $750 is now a misdemeanor, whereas before it was a felony? That sounds like bull poop to me. Why in the world would they want to do that?

gphawk89 11 years, 6 months ago

What about the situation where a law enforcement officer sneaks into your home at night, without announcing himself, without turning on lights, and surprises the crap out of you in your bedroom? This happened to me in Mission about a dozen years ago and came VERY close to having a very different and tragic outcome. I'm to believe that I can use deadly force against a law officer who doesn't announce himself and I'll be immune from prosecution? I don't think so...

wysiwyg69 11 years, 6 months ago

the law did enter a topeka residencea few years ago, cop entered home without saying police- man shot cop- cop died- man was found not guilty. I would still say if the law enters without saying police, their could be trouble, even though they do not have to announce it

dizzy_from_your_spin 11 years, 6 months ago

Funny how stories are headlined, isn't it?

This one could just have easily been labeled "Gov. Sebelius Enacts Force for Force Law" but she doesn't make the headline gets next to no mention.

Compare this story with the headline and content for the Jessica's Law signing. One would think the gov. introduced it, pushed it through and signed it all by herself.

This one is a little less popular and a little more controversial so we don't want too many of Kathy's fingerprints on it.

Apparently appearances trump her "misgivings" during an election year--especially after the beating she took on CCW.

partaga1 11 years, 6 months ago

Folks, we live in Lawrence KS. Quit getting so worked up about this. Remember when there was that shooting outside the Granada? Remember how it was such a big deal (especially, on these message boards) for weeks. That's because violence at that level is rare, we don't live in the wild west.
And remember the unfortunate souls involved in that incident? Does your lifestyle match their's? Or are you more likely to be nodding off to Conan O'Brien at 1 am than arguing outside a rap concert? Right, so don't worry about it.

Go out and enjoy a cone at Silas and Maddy's, relax with a beer on the porch at Free State, take in a half priced movie Tuesday night at Liberty Hall. Then next week, post back how many times you had to repel a gang from the front porch of your home.

Seriously, enjoy yourself.

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