JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation 143-4 on Monday that expands circumstances in which Missourians legally can kill people illegally intruding on their property.
The legislation states that Missouri residents have “no duty to retreat” and that they have the legal right to “stand his or her ground and meet force with force” if their dwelling, residence or occupied vehicle is attacked and they feel they are threatened with bodily harm or a “forcible felony.”
The concurrent House legislation was proposed by Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, and Rep. Kenneth Jones, R-California.
Four Republican bills have been presented in the House and the Senate, all trying to broaden the circumstances in which defensive use of force can be used.
“At the present time, there are some folks that think if you are attacked in your home, you have the duty to retreat,” Jones said. “This (bill) will mean that you can stay there and defend yourself.”
One of the four representatives who voted against the bill, Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, cited her unwillingness to encourage Missourians to use violence in any circumstance as her main reason for opposing the bill. She also said that she does not think the debate over lethal force is a pressing issue and that issues like Medicaid should be addressed before issues like lethal force.
Another of the four opponents of the bill, Rep. Beth Low, D-Jackson County, said she did not think that civil lawsuits stemming from instances of defensive use of force were addressed adequately.
Jones said he thinks civil lawsuits have been addressed in the bill.
The legislation will now move to the Senate, where the sponsor of similar legislation in the Senate — Sen. Chuck Purgason, R-Caulfield — is optimistic about its chances.
Two bills with similar proposals but without the “stand his or her ground and meet force with force” stipulation were heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Sen. Jack Goodman, R-Mount Vernon said that as one of the bill’s sponsors, he deliberately left out that wording because of its controversial nature.
Purgason said the additional language in the House bill would not harm its chances of passing and said he is happy with the addition because it provides consistency with other states that have passed similar legislation.