Rendell should veto 'castle' measure

Harrisburg lawmakers have sent a bill to Gov. Rendell that would make the streets of Philadelphia and other communities across the state more dangerous places by allowing gun owners to blast away if they feel threatened outside their home or even in their car.

Rendell should veto it.

The legislation would expand the "castle doctrine," which enables gun owners to use their weapons in defense within their home, or "castle."

Under the current law, a homeowner has all the legal protection he or she needs to defend against an intruder inside a home. So this expansion of the rule is unnecessary – except to tick off an item on the National Rifle Association agenda.

Beyond the prospect of road-rage incidents turning into deadly confrontations, prosecutors fear that anyone who fires a weapon in such circumstances could make a claim of self-defense. Even if the other person was unarmed, a shooter could claim he felt is safety was threatened in his “castle.”

After House members earlier approved a version of this bill, the Senate tacked it on an unrelated measure that would expand the state’s law aimed at protecting children from sex offenders. But Rendell shouldn’t give in to such tactics. If the strengthening of the Megan’s Law statute really is a worthwhile proposal, it can be reintroduced in a matter of months.

For now, the governor should use his veto to lay siege to this expansion of the castle doctrine.

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