Legislators looking for a compromise

The bill would give Missourians more rights to kill intruders.
Monday, May 14, 2007 | 1:19 a.m. CDT; updated 4:59 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — With time quickly running out in the Missouri General Assembly, legislators are rushing to come to a compromise regarding a bill that would allow Missourians greater rights to kill intruders entering their homes or vehicles.

Dubbed the “Castle Doctrine” by supporters such as the National Rifle Association and a “Shoot First” issue by opponents such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the issue is one that has been debated by state legislatures across the country since it was first passed in Florida in 2005.

In Missouri, different bills have passed through each chamber of the General Assembly.

The House version that allows the right to defend oneself “in a place where he or she has a right to be” makes some Democrats, like Kansas City Sen. Jolie Justus, uncomfortable.

Justus, one of only two Democrats to vote against Sen. Jack Goodman’s initial Senate legislation, said she thinks it’s unwise to allow anyone who feels threatened to use gun violence, especially if he or she isn’t at home.

“It went from the Castle Doctrine to the Stand Your Ground Doctrine, which essentially would mean that wherever a person is, they can defend themselves with gun force, and I think that that creates sort of an O.K. Corral-type atmosphere, and it’s bad public policy,” Justus said.

After a filibuster by Justus on Tuesday, Goodman, R-Mt. Vernon, the sponsor of the Senate version, withdrew the bill from debate.

Negotiations between legislators from the House and the Senate have begun, and they have until the end of the session on Friday to figure out a compromise.

Justus said Thursday she would not attempt to filibuster again if a compromise is reached. Goodman said he believes that the bill will ultimately pass, probably without the “Stand Your Ground” statute in the House bill.

“We’ve been in negotiations between House and Senate members and the interested parties that were filibustering the legislation, and I’m very confident that we will come to a compromise that leaves us with a very meaningful bill that allows people new, needed protections so that law-abiding (citizens) can have self-defense rights,” Goodman said.

Goodman said earlier this year that he intentionally left out the more controversial wording because he did not want the bill to become “an overblown, shoot ’em up bill with potential for abuse.”

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