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State Senator Proposes Castle Doctrine Expansion in Pennsylvania

Gun safety organization in the state believe the proposal could encourage violence

Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Stefano has introduced new legislation that would expand the state’s Castle Doctrine.

Castle Doctrine establishes what citizens can do to defend their property. 

According to U.S. Concealed Carry, the law is “typically limited to real property, including a person’s home, property and, in some states, cars or workplaces.”

“The concept is that an individual has a right to be safe and secure within his or her own home or “castle” and should not have to retreat from his or her home in order to be safe,” the organization says. “Depending on the state, an individual may have the right to protect himself or herself, other people, and his or her property by force — in some instances even employing deadly force against intruders without retreating.”

The legislation introduced in Pennslyvania by Stefano on Oct. 28 would permit Pennsylvanians to use self-defense beyond their home to their property line.

Stefano, a Republican, says the expansion would allow state residents to “better protect themselves, their family, and their property.”

“Forcing law-abiding Pennsylvanians to wait to defend their loved ones until a criminal enters their home could result in the unnecessary loss of innocent life – a tragedy made worse because it could have been prevented,” the state senator said. “The right to defend oneself should not be limited, as it is in the current weaker standard, based on whether individuals are inside their dwelling or on their property.”

CBS Pittsburgh reports that the statute was last updated in 2011. At that time, the principles of Castle Doctrine were expanded to include the right of self-defense when an actor believes they are in danger of death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or rape.

Adam Garber, the executive director of gun safety organization CEASEFIRE, PA, believes Stefano’s proposed bill would increase violence and encourage aggressive behavior.

“I think that what we know is these kinds of Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws, when expanded, lead to more community-level violence and even pose a risk to the owners for shooting a loved one or someone else in their family,” Garber said to CBS.

The bill will most likely be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review.

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