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Castle Doctrine Not The Cause of Florida Tragedy


Location: Unknown

In reading the Harrisburg Patriot-News editorial of April 2, the immediate thought that came to mind was never let the facts and the truth stop an opportunity for media sensationalism.

The rather disingenuous writing suggests that the recent Trayvon Martin tragedy in Florida could be repeated in Pennsylvania due to our new Castle Doctrine law. This is a completely manufactured falsehood designed to ramp up the sale of newspapers.

Over the past several years, the effort to pass the Castle Doctrine was transparent, deliberate, mature and methodical. This was not some wild-eyed, fanatical over-reach, but instead, a genuine effort to return the basic right of self-defense to the average Pennsylvanian. This effort was designed to take away the advantage of the criminal in a potentially violent situation. As the prime sponsor of the law, I am proud of the wide bipartisan support it received throughout the Legislature.

The law in Pennsylvania is very clear. An ironclad provision within the law says that a person using a firearm in self defense has to be in legal possession of a firearm, and that the potential assailant MUST be displaying a firearm or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use.

To be clear, the Florida law does NOT contain that provision. It is my belief that, if this Martin scenario had taken place in Pennsylvania, George Zimmerman would have been taken into custody.

The tone of the editorial does not take the path of reason on behalf of the law-abiding citizen. Instead, it takes a cheap shot to discredit supporters of the right to keep and bear arms and the right of self defense.

The Castle Doctrine has been and continues to be needed. Law-abiding citizens genuinely care about obeying the law of the land and abiding by the customs of decent society. Criminals do not care about the law, and they should never have the advantage over those who work hard, play by the rules and merely try to live decent lives.

Finally, as much as I do not want to disagree with former Philadelphia and Miami Police Chief John Timoney, I must say that his assertion that the law gives "unfettered power and discretion with no accountability" is inaccurate. The criminal had that power and discretion until the Castle Doctrine was put into effect.

I hope that in the future, the Harrisburg Patriot-News will place its sympathies with law-abiding citizens.

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