Letter to the Editor
State Rep. Phyllis Mundy
January 25, 2011
I take strong exception to Charles Prula’s characterization of my vote against last session’s House Bill 1926 in his recent Letter to the Editor.
I support the Castle Doctrine – the concept that citizens have the right to defend themselves and their families with deadly force. This concept is current law in Pennsylvania. The legislation Mr. Prula mentioned in his letter, inaccurately referred to as the "Castle Doctrine," is actually a dramatic expansion of this concept.
Under current law, a person may use deadly force to defend himself and his family if he is threatened inside his home or workplace, regardless of whether or not the person can safely retreat. Outside of the home or workplace, a person is only required to retreat if that person knows that he can do so in complete safety.
According to a letter legislators received from the PA Law Enforcement Gun Violence Policy Group, a coalition of police chiefs from large and small communities across the state, this established standard works and should not be changed. The PA District Attorneys Association agreed, saying that the standard in current law already affords great protection to residents threatened by deadly force. These two groups of law enforcement professionals joined the State Police in strongly opposing H.B. 1926.
This bill would expand existing law to allow the use of deadly force to anywhere an individual has a right to be. The law enforcement community and I find this bill’s potential for abuse alarming, to say the least. This bill would make it more difficult to prosecute violent criminals and would compromise the safety of our residents and law enforcement professionals.
The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association said that H.B. 1926 is "a ready-made defense for violent criminals – a defense which their attorneys will exploit in court."
The Law Enforcement Gun Violence Policy Group said the legislation will make it harder for police and prosecutors to do their jobs. They go on to say that this bill would run the risk of making violent domestic situations and instances of road rage even more dangerous, as well as provide a creative defense for criminals responsible for collateral tragedies of civilians caught in crossfire.
The letters and comments from law enforcement professionals I reference are available in my district office should any reader wish to see them.
I promised my constituents that I would always try to act in their best interest. While it would certainly have been more politically expedient to have voted for this bill, I will continue to stand up to any powerful special interest group whose policies put the safety of my constituents at risk, make our streets less safe, and make the prosecution of violent criminals more difficult.
120th Legislative District