30 States Have “Castle Doctrine” Laws, NRA Wants More


When Sarah Dawn McKinley, of Blanchard, Ok., shot and killed a burglar breaking into her home on New Year's Eve, she was spared prosecution by the state's “castle doctrine” law, which protects people who defend themselves against intruders. Oklahoma has one of the nation's most expansive castle doctrine laws — the law includes those defending themselves in either a home or place of business, says Stateline.org. The National Rifle Association says that at least 30 states have some form of legislation protecting people from prosecution when they feel threatened by intruders to their property.

In New Hampshire last year, legislators overrode Governor John Lynch's veto when he objected to a castle doctrine bill that allows anyone to defend themselves if they are in their “dwelling, its curtilage, or anywhere he or she has the right to be.” Lynch said the new provisions would increase “deadly violence,” but the legislature disagreed. The year 2011 was a successful one for the castle doctrine, with states enacting new laws and, as in New Hampshire, expanding earlier ones. The national Association of Prosecuting Attorneys argues that the right of self-defense and defense of property are well established in common law and don't need to be legislated. Still, the NRA is advocating for castle doctrine laws in the 20 states without them.

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