Castle law protects intruder-shooting homeowners
Wisconsin senators voted 26-to-7 this afternoon to let homeowners avoid criminal or civil punishment for killing burglars and other unwanted intruders. The Assembly approved the so-called "castle doctrine" on Tuesday - and the bill's going back to the lower house for approval of a Democratic amendment which was added today.
The amendment makes homeowners liable for hurting or killing people they should have known were firefighters or ambulance personnel. The original bill gave that protection only to police officers.
Nine Democrats joined all Republicans in supporting the bill. Seven Democrats voted no, including Minority Leader Mark Miller. Racine Republican Van Wangaard, a former police officer, said he drafted the bill to make sure families are safe in their own homes.
But Middleton Democrat Jon Erpenbach said the measure was being rammed through to please gun rights supporters - and he said the day was quote, "bought and paid for by the National Rifle Association." Chief prosecutors in Milwaukee and Sheboygan said Wisconsin doesn't need a self-defense bill, since homeowners already have plenty of legal protections if they hurt intruders. And the State Bar Association also came out against the measure, saying it protects quote, "irrational people armed with deadly force."
The Wisconsin Assembly gave final legislative approval to the measure on a 71-to-24 vote early the morning of Nov. 4. It now goes to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Under the bill, judges must presume that the use of deadly force was justified to prevent home and business owners from being harmed on their own properties.