Wednesday, February 01, 2006
News staff writer
MONTGOMERY - The state House of Representatives on Tuesday talked to a standstill over a bill that would expand a person's right to use deadly force in self-defense or defense of another person.
"This bill here, it don't give you a right just to shoot people. It just gives you an equal opportunity to protect yourself. You're on a level field with the criminals," said Rep. Albert Hall, D-Gurley, the bill's sponsor.
Most House members supported the bill; they voted 77-17 to bring it up for debate. But many black House members talked against it for hours.
Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile, said the bill would let people legally shoot others too easily. "I don't think we should open the floodgates to give people the right to shoot to kill," he said.
After almost four hours, House members voted to adjourn without passing the bill. Hall said he and other supporters would meet with opponents to try to reach a compromise.
Speaker Seth Hammett, D-Andalusia, the House leader, said the bill would be brought back for debate in two or three weeks.
Under current law, a person in most cases is not allowed to use deadly force if he or she knows it could be avoided by retreating, unless he or she is in his or her own home or workplace and was not the original aggressor.
The proposal debated Tuesday would let a person use deadly force if he or she reasonably believed another person was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or already had unlawfully and forcefully entered, a dwelling or occupied vehicle. It says a person would have the right to stand his or her ground, rather than retreating, as long as he or she was doing nothing illegal and had the right to be where he or she was.
Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, warned that, under the bill, a homeowner driving into his or her driveway could shoot to kill a burglar who was running away after breaking into the house. "Where I come from, that's not self-defense at all," Newton said. "That's taking a human life without very much probable cause."
Under the bill, a dwelling would include a tent or porch. A vehicle would include any conveyance, motorized or not, designed to move a person or property.
The bill also would let a person use deadly force if he or she reasonably believed another person was attempting to remove, or had forcefully removed, someone from a dwelling or vehicle where that person had a legal right to be.
There would be some exceptions. For instance, a person could not use deadly force against someone who was in a place he or she had a right to be if there were no restraining order against that person.
The bill would grant a person who used deadly force, as the bill allowed, immunity from criminal prosecution and lawsuits.
State law now says a person can use deadly force if he or she reasonably believes another person is:
Using or about to use unlawful deadly physical force.
Using or about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling while trying to commit a burglary.
Committing or about to commit a kidnapping, serious assault, burglary, robbery, forcible rape or forcible sodomy.
Told you the black caucaus would not let it pass.
How on earth can that be seen as ANYTHING OTHER than admiting you are there to represent criminal intrests in keeping good people at the disadvantage?
We have to call and fight for this bill guys. This is a very important right to all of us in Alabama. Call your local Rep/Senator and light a fire up their butt to support this bill. Remember this is an election year and we have the upper hand.
It is a bit late for this session, but I would like to lead a petition started online via my site or another medium we all could agree on to repeal the Alabama Short BBL Rifle/Shotgun laws we have on the books now. I think we have a good chance to get this stupid law off the books next year if we get enough support about this issue. What do you all think? Email me via my site if you have serious ideas about getting this grassroots movment started.
I remember that back in the early 80's, Louisiana was trying to pass some type of "Home Defense" bill.
The Louisiana NAACP was vehemently opposed to its passage..
Interesting that the leaders for communities most plagued by violent crime represent the largest opposition to allowing thier constituants to defend themselves.
Who's holding who back now?
There was another profirearm bill that was blocked by the blacks because they attached an amendment to it that would allow blacks (no whites) to be able to become police officers with a felony record.