Target: Missouri State Representative Joe Don McGaugh
Goal: Repeal new gun law that encourages use of deadly force against trespassers
The Missouri State House of Representatives recently passed a bill that will allow the use of deadly force against any person who “unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual, or is occupied by an individual who has been given specific authority by the property owner to occupy the property, claiming a use of protective force under this section.” This law is an expansion of the “Castle Doctrine,” which allows property owners to use deadly force in the event of trespassing without the so-called “duty to retreat.”
While the law is intended to extend the Castle Doctrine to people who may be occupying a property they don’t own, like babysitters and house-sitters, in practice this language is so broad that it would allow just about anybody in almost any setting to use deadly force anytime they feel that they are protecting against “unlawful entry.” This could mean, for example, that a patron at a movie theater would be allowed to shoot someone that they think has entered without a ticket, or that someone sitting in a bar may take it upon themselves to forcefully expel another customer that has been asked to leave.
This bill is also very similar to the various “Stand Your Ground” laws, like the one in Florida under which Trayvon Martin’s killer walked free. These laws have been associated with increased vigilantism, and since the scope of this bill is essentially undefined, it is unprecedented in the leniency granted to those who would use deadly force for any reason. Demand that the Missouri House of Representatives repeal this poorly written and unnecessary law.
Dear Mr. McGaugh,
Your recent bill to expand the use of the Castle Doctrine is not “common sense,” nor is it written in a way that suggests that there are any real limits to the use of deadly force, whether in self-defense or for the purposes of protecting against “unlawful entry.”
This law will encourage those who are the least responsible with their guns to pursue the use of deadly force on any occasion in which they feel that someone has “trespassed,” even when the property in question does not belong to them. Please repeal this vague, unnecessary, and poorly written law before the shooting begins.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Lucio Eastman via Wikimedia Commons