“Castle Doctrine” laws removing the requirement that citizens first must seek a safe retreat from an intruder before using deadly force have passed in 20 states in two years, in large part because of lobbying by the National Rifle Association, says USA Today. A recent spate of shootings in Jackson, Mi., has reinvigorated public discussion of the law. In one week, four Jackson homeowners fired shots at four suspected burglars. Two of the suspected intruders were killed and a third was injured. Only one of the homeowners in those shootings – a convicted felon who is not allowed to own a firearm – faces criminal charges.
“We want to make sure that in America the right to self-defense continues to exist and that the American citizen’s home remains his castle,” says NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre. FBI statistics show 241 justifiable homicides by private citizens in 2006. That’s a 23 percent increase over the previous year, but that is fewer than the 247 killed in 2003 before the NRA push began. There has been a 13 percent decrease in justifiable homicides over the past decade. George Washington University law Prof. Robert Cottrol says the Castle Doctrine law is a more incremental change than either side of the gun-control debate wants to admit. Realistically, he says, prosecutors have not been eager to prosecute people who truly act in self-defense.