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Ferman: Castle Doctrine Update Unnecessary

Risa_FermanMontgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman (pictured here) says Pennsylvania’s updated “Castle Doctrine” law, which expands a person’s right do use deadly force, is a solution in search of a problem. She says she sees two areas where it could potentially be abused.

“I’m concerned about criminals using it to protect themselves, and I’m also concerned about people not knowing what the parameters of the law are.  There are people in our community who carry firearms legally, appropriately, and I’m concerned about the fight in the Starbucks parking lot, where there’s a fight over a parking space and someone gets a little bit hotheaded and feels they’re threatened, and all of a sudden the guns come out and, God forbid, a child is caught in the crossfire of two otherwise law-abiding decent citizens and someone just got a little too hot or out of control.”

The new law eliminates the duty to retreat if an individual is in a place where he or she has the lawful right to be.  The National Rifle Association says it protects law-abiding gun owners from being second-guessed by an overzealous prosecutor, but Ferman says to the best of her knowledge that has never happened in Pennsylvania.

“No one has been able to show me a single example of a prosecutor who went off half-cocked and charged someone who was truly defending themselves.”

Ferman says she fully supports the idea that people have a right to defend themselves, but she believes the old law was working very well, and she is concerned that thugs might use the new one to avoid legal responsibility for going after each other.

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