Bills would allow deadly force against intruders
Delegate Dickie Bell, R-Staunton, is sponsoring two bills that would empower Virginians to use lethal force against an intruder in their home.
House Bill 47 would grant civil immunity to anyone who injures or kills someone while defending their home from another person who has posed a threat of injury to the other or has entered the home unlawfully.
House Bill 48 would enshrine in Virginia law the “Castle Doctrine” that about 30 other states have. The bill would allow the use of physical or deadly force in someone’s home if an intruder has committed an “overt act against him.”
Both bills have been referred to a subcommittee of the House Courts of Justice Committee. HB 48 is scheduled for consideration by the subcommittee next Monday [Jan. 23].
Andy Goddard, director of the Virginia Center for Public Safety, said bills like Bell’s are attempting to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.
“Nobody is finding themselves at the wrong end of the law. ... Nobody is being prosecuted for defending their home,” said Goddard, father of a victim of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
Both bills grant an across-the-board exemption and, according to Goddard, leave too much room for potential misuse of the law.
“What about a messy divorce? One partner invites the other over to pick up something, shoots them and then says, ‘Well, we had a messy divorce, he or she started shouting and threatening, I was afraid and I shot.’ You get away with murder,” Goddard said.
The Virginia Citizens Defense League, which supports Second Amendment rights, has chosen to stay neutral on both bills. Instead, the group has asked that a state commission conduct a study before such legislation is passed.
“We think that probably that should be a more comprehensive bill,” VCDL president Philip Van Cleave said Monday at the organization’s lobby day at the state Capitol.
“Right now, Virginia law is extremely good, and we’re concerned that if it’s not done right, it can actually make it worse.”
With Republicans controlling both the House and Senate, this could be an important year for gun rights supporters.
“I think it is more in our favor than it has been in the past three or four years,” Van Cleave said. “I’m optimistic that some of the bills that have died before will probably make it this time.”
So far, legislators have introduced 36 bills that would affect state gun policy. Six of them were drafted by the VCDL.
“This is where the rubber meets the road,” U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke said at VCDL’s lobby day.
“Republicans say they’re conservative and say they’re for the Second Amendment. It’s easy to say that when you know things are going to get killed in committee and you’re not going to have to deal with the issues.”
The true test comes now that Republicans are in charge of the General Assembly, said Radtke, a leader in Virginia’s tea party movement. “We’ll see if they’re going to vote the way they say they believe.”
Reynolds Community College will host Richmond sculptor Paul DiPasquale Sept. 28 as he shares his presentation “Art Talk, Why Art Matters” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center Gallery of the Workforce Development and Conference Center on the Parham Road Campus, located at 1651 E. Parham Road in Richmond. This event is free and open to the public. > Read more.
The Children's Clothing Closet at Highland Springs United Methodist Church will be open Saturday, Aug. 27 and Tuesday, Aug. 30 to provide free new or nearly new children's clothing for families in need, prior to the start of the school year. The Clothing Closet will be open from 10 a.m. to noon both days. The church is located at 22 North Holly Avenue. > Read more.
For our Top 10 calendar events this weekend, click here! > Read more.
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CalendarThe Pocahontas Chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society will meet at 7 p.m. at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Why would a young woman spend time fertilizing native grass on an undeveloped barrier island? That young woman, Ashley Moulton, will present the results of her Master’s thesis, including the important implications of how the functional diversity of plant communities can be altered by global and local disturbances in coastal systems. The program is free and open to the public. A short business meeting will follow the presentation. For details, visit http://www.pocahontaschapter-vnps.org. Full text