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Dayton vetoes ‘Castle Doctrine’ bill

Published (3/9/2012)
By Mike Cook
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Siding with most of Minnesota’s law enforcement and public safety organizations, Gov. Mark Dayton disengaged a bill that would have expanded citizens’ rights to use deadly force.

“The MN Police and Peace Officers Association, the MN Chiefs of Police and the MN Sheriffs Association represent the men and women who risk their lives every day and night to protect the rest of us. When they strongly oppose a measure, because they believe it will increase the dangers to them in the performance of their duties, I cannot support it,” Dayton wrote in his March 5 veto letter.

Sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) and Sen. Gretchen Hoffman (R-Vergas), the bill would have, in part, changed state law governing the use of force in self-defense, including that an individual using deadly force is presumed to possess a reasonable belief that there exists an imminent threat of substantial or great bodily harm or death. Gun owners would not have been entitled to the presumption if the person fired on was believed to be a law enforcement officer.

Proponents said the bill would better let law-abiding citizens defend their property and stand their ground. Opponents argued that the bill would essentially allow a person to shoot first and ask questions later.

The bill also would have defined and delimited the authority of peace officers to disarm law abiding individuals during a state of disaster declared by the governor, and would have required Minnesota to recognize a permit-to-carry issued by any other state, provided that the permit holder conforms to Minnesota’s pistol carry laws while carrying a pistol within Minnesota.

The latter provision was also of concern to the governor.

“Making all permits issued by other states and governmental jurisdictions valid in Minnesota would allow people to carry guns here under the considerably lower standards for the issuance of permits of some other states,” Dayton wrote.

Furthermore, the state’s top elected official noted someone can already use deadly force to defend themselves, provided that use constitutes “reasonable force.”

“That, I believe, is a reasonable standard,” Dayton wrote.

Cornish said the bill won’t be brought back this year for an override attempt, but he will try to get it passed next session.

HF1467*/ SF1357/CH126

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