Let Me Live

By Gerard Valentino

(This commentary has also been published at CNSNews.com!

There are few things in life more precious than the safety and security felt in one’s own home. For most Americans it is where their children play and a personal sanctuary from the frantic pace of modern life.

In many states however, a person’s home is free for the taking. Not only by unethical politicians willing to turn it over to developers, but also to criminals who are protected by the law while they invade your home.

Despite what most people believe there is no presumption that deadly force is legal if someone commits a home invasion while you are home.

If deadly force is used, the burden is on the law-abiding citizen to prove they honestly felt at risk of death or serious bodily injury. To that end, the use of deadly force section of Ohio’s concealed carry pamphlet actually identifies the criminal that broke into your house, threatened you, and forced you to shoot them as the victim.

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Most states do not require a duty to retreat from violent attack while in the home. A provision of the law sometimes called the castle doctrine that stands in stark contrast to the requirement to retreat while outside the home. That means if you’re attacked while outside the home and have a way to retreat the law requires you to take this course of action before deadly force is considered legal.

Florida’s recently enacted self-defense reform eliminates the duty to retreat while not in your home. Such reform gives the presumption of innocence in an armed encounter back to the law-abiding, and limits how an unscrupulous lawyer can use the law against an honest citizen.

Despite claims by the anti-self defense movement Florida’s law does not change that deadly force can only be used if a person reasonably fears for their life or has a fear of bodily injury. It also doesn’t give immunity for someone who uses deadly force when it isn’t warranted.

Florida’s new law also strengthened the castle doctrine to allow the use of deadly force whenever confronted by an intruder in your own home and limits the civil liability of a law-abiding citizen that uses legally justified deadly force. A welcome provision that serves to deny a criminal, or their estate, profits that stem from illegal and violent behavior.

The anti-gun movement claimed the new laws would legalize murder, as if changing the law would somehow turn honest law-abiding citizens into crazed gun toting killers. True to form the dire predictions didn’t materialize, and once again the anti-gun rhetoric proved to be misdirected.

During the heyday of gun control law-abiding Americans were forced to give the initiative to criminals, who refused to turn in their guns. Laws restricting the use of self-defense and the establishment media’s insistence on recommending passive resistance to a violent attack further empowered criminals.

States now have hard evidence that giving the presumption of innocence back to law-abiding gun owners won’t turn them into blood thirsty murderers. By enacting similar laws they can be at the forefront of the self-defense movement and put criminals on alert that they can no longer act with impunity.

Florida led the nation in 1987 by enacting the first viable concealed carry law which began the process of reaffirming the right to self-defense. Then they created the blueprint for reinforcing the rights of the law-abiding by dropping the unsafe requirement to retreat while outside the home, strengthening the castle doctrine, and giving immunity from frivolous wrongful death lawsuits to anyone that uses legally justified deadly force.

After years of successful legal concealed carry nationwide it still took years of debate for some states to pass similar legislation. Let’s hope for the sake of our nation’s citizens that it doesn’t take that long for current self-defense reform to proliferate.

If legislators chose to ignore Florida’s success they will continue to force law-abiding citizens to make an unfair choice between rightfully defending their life and possibly ending up in jail, or submitting to the will of an armed thug.

Asking an honest citizen to make such a decision is simply unacceptable so it is vitally important that the presumption of innocence is given back to the law-abiding gun owner.

Gerard Valentino is the Central Ohio Chair for the Buckeye Firearms Association, Buckeye Firearms.org.

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