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Doug Berger’s Misguided Castle Doctrine

Cross-posted from BlueNC

I am by no means an opponent of the 2nd Amendment, and have studied the Founding Fathers’ reasoning behind its inclusion in our Constitution and concluded they had all citizenry in mind when they referenced the Militia, and not a tight select group as some of my fellow Liberals have concluded. With that clearly stated, I also believe the possession and use of firearms should be sensibly regulated, and the enforcement of our laws should be reserved for those we have given the responsibility to do such. Any effort to erode these common sense ideals should be scrutinized closely and potential consequences explored, or we may find ourselves one day living under the aura of vigilante justice again.

A bill was introduced last month by (believe it or not) Democratic Senator Doug Berger, titled the Castle Doctrine:

AN ACT to clarify when a person may use defensive force to protect against the unlawful and forcible entry into the person’s dwelling by another, to prevent the removal of a person against his or her will from the person’s dwelling, to provide that a person who is in a place where the person has a right to be has no duty to retreat, and to provide that a person is justified in using defensive force in these circumstances and so is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.

A handful of other states have enacted such legislation, against the express wishes of a vast majority of law enforcement officials. But I’m not going to get into civilian legislators ignoring the wisdom of those whose experience and knowledge should be the primary resource for making such decisions. Okay, I guess I just did get into it. But I’m not going to belabor it.

First of all, the misleading nature of the title. A castle, except for the one in, “Robin Hood: Men In Tights”, is a stationary structure. It ain’t movin’. Even the phrase, “A man’s home is his castle”, which is where the title of this bill originally came from, refers to the man’s home. But as far as this bill is concerned, a man’s castle follows him wherever he goes:

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be

So that’s driving down the road, shopping in a mall, walking in a park, sitting in a restaurant, drinking in a bar, marching in a protest rally or observing said protest rally. And the list goes on.

Here’s the conclusion of that paragraph:

…has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

Reasonably believes it is necessary. Not “show proof” or “demonstrate” it is necessary. Just believing it is necessary will suffice.

And the gate swings even wider with, “to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.” Let’s see what falls into that category:

Forcible felony. – Treason; murder; manslaughter; rape, sexual offense, sexual battery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; felonious stalking; malicious use of explosive or incendiary device; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

Treason? Did you actually type that word and not ask yourself, “Have I lost my mind or something?” Does a man’s castle now encompass the entire nation? What the hell, everybody should have the legal right to use deadly force against those we “believe” are guilty of:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere

Felonious stalking? I don’t really know what constitutes that, and I’m not going to look it up. I’m going to be gracious and estimate that 5% of the population understands what legally constitutes felonious stalking, and most of them are cops and lawyers. But apparently cops and lawyers aren’t enough to guarantee public safety, so I’m going to have to step up. “I believe” that scruffy-looking guy following that mom and her toddler down the sidewalk is up to no good, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let him hurt those two. If he gets any closer than ten feet, it’s hasta la vista, baby.

Luckily for me, if I miss and accidentally shoot the mom (or the toddler), I don’t have to worry about any pesky frivolous lawsuit, because I have immunity:

A person who uses force as permitted by this section is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force

Senator Berger, for the most part, I am a fan. You do some good work. This is not good work, this is…well, this is some crazy shit, actually. I am at a loss. Please remember your own words when we were discussing the proper leadership for our party:

Holding positions so diametrically opposed to policies at the heart of the Democratic Party justify his rejection as Party Chair.

2 Comments


  1. AdamL

    April 28, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    I get the feeling that we are going to have guns in the General Assembly before we get cameras.

  2. Michael S. Green

    September 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    It passed the senate 42-2, Please just asign it to a Sub- comm. to work out final language, scheduling a hearing, Let the People speek. what is wrong with that. This is all I want, a fair hearing.

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