Missouri’s new “castle doctrine” law allows carte blanche to kill anyone unlawfully entering a house or a car or committing a forcible felony, such as kidnapping, armed robbery, burglary, arson, assault, rape, or sodomy. How far can Missourians go, asks the Kansas City Star? Shoot a drunk who staggers into your home? Probably. Kill the teen burglar who raises his arms in surrender? Possibly. A 13-member committee that is writing jury instructions for the new law accepts a less-broad interpretation, said Jackson County Judge Charles Atwell, the committee's chairman. The previous state law included a “reasonableness” standard, meaning you had to believe that you, or another person, was in serious danger before using deadly force. Because that phrase remains in the new law, juries should take it into account, Atwell said.
“That's going to cause a fight,” counters lawyer Kevin Jamison, who worked with the Western Missouri Shooters Alliance and the National Rifle Association to help pass the new law. The NRA has helped spread such laws to Kansas and more than 15 other states in the last two years, though wording varies among states. The Kansas law contains a reasonableness standard. Prosecutors fear the law will make it more difficult to file and win cases against even hardened criminals, who may twist the law to help them kill others legally. “Bad people are going to get away with murder because of this statute,” said assistant Jackson County prosecutor Bryan Krantz. “A lot of people are going to get away with murder.”