The impact of National Rifle Association-backed laws sweeping the nation that make it easier to justify shooting in self-defense is unclear, reports the Associated Press. Gun rights advocates who have helped pass the laws in 23 states since 2003 say they remove an unfair legal penalty for people exercising a constitutional right in a life-or-death emergency.Some police and prosecutors are skeptical of self-defense claims under the laws.
An Associated Press review found a growing number of cases but no clear trend yet in how the law is applied or how cases will be resolved in court. All a defendant has to do is establish a threat, and usually the other witness is dead. That shifts the burden to prosecutors and police investigators, who have to gather evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that deadly force wasn’t justified, according to a report by the National District Attorneys Association. “It’s very difficult to prove a negative,” said Steven Jansen, NDAA president. “It might be a little too early to get the overall effect through the court process because we’re just seeing the cases enter the court and finding out how the judges are going to rule.”