JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Matt Blunt signed legislation Tuesday allowing Missourians to fatally shoot intruders without fear of prosecution or lawsuits.
The measure spells out that people are not required to retreat from an intruder and can use deadly force once the person illegally enters their home, vehicle or other dwelling, including a tent. The bill provides an absolute defense against being charged or sued for using such force.
“It ensures law-abiding Missourians will not be punished when they use force to defend themselves and their family from attacks in their own home or vehicle,” Blunt said in a written statement.
Under the old law, deadly force was justified only if people believed it necessary to protect themselves or others from death or serious injury.
The bill generally makes an intruder’s presence justification to shoot, or use other force, knowing the intruder could be seriously injured or killed. It does not apply in some circumstances, such as when the intruder is a police officer or when the resident was committing certain felonies, including murder, robbery, kidnapping or sexual crimes.
The new law takes effect Aug. 28.
The bill also includes a response to the Virginia Tech slayings. It allows court records ordering people to get mental health treatment, either outpatient or in a facility, to be sent to the national system gun dealers use to complete background checks before making a sale.
Previously, Missouri did not transmit mental health records to the database, adding only those with criminal convictions to the system.
The measure also gets rid of a state law requiring people to obtain permits from their local sheriffs before they can get a handgun.
Blunt signed the bill in Joplin and planned to promote the law in Cape Girardeau and Kirksville.
Later Tuesday, Blunt planned to visit Chesterfield and sign separate legislation intended to protect hunting on flood plains.
That bill creates “hunting heritage protection areas” on 100-year flood plains of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Under the new law, tax increment financing, a redevelopment tool that diverts tax collections to help pay for private projects, generally could not be used in those areas.
The measure still allows the tax tool to be used for flood control and renewable energy plants, such as ethanol and biodiesel. The flood-plain hunting areas also would not include urban areas, ports or land within half a mile of interstate highways.