Armed citizens who shoot in self-defense will gain legal protection from civil lawsuits and criminal charges under a bill signed yesterday by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the Detroit Free Press reports. The legislation, promoted by gun-rights activists, clarifies when a person can use deadly force in self-defense during break-ins, carjackings, and other potentially violent crimes — even in incidents away from the person’s home. A Granholm spokeswoman said the governor forced changes in the bill, such as protecting victims of domestic assault and allowing prosecutors to investigate self-defense shootings.
The self-defense bills make it clear that a law-abiding person who’s attacked — or believes a violent attack is imminent — is not required to attempt to flee before using deadly force. The laws shield those who shoot in self-defense from costly lawsuits by their wounded attackers or their families. Opponents argued that existing common law allows people to defend themselves and others from violent attacks, and that the bills would lead to vigilante justice.