An effort to expand gun rights in Missouri has run into strong opposition in the Senate from lawmakers who say its too extreme and would let too many people escape responsibility for unnecessary violence.
The Senate originally passed the Castle doctrine, strengthening the rights of people in their homes or vehicles to use violent force if they assume their lives are endangered. The House changed it to a "Stand Your Ground" law, which extends those rights to anywhere.
Opponents led by Kansas City Senator Jolie Justus say both concepts go much too far…and relieve people of too much responsibility. She particularly objects to a provision that anyone who illegally enters a dwelling or occupied vehicle is presumed to be doing so to commit an unlawful act to commit force or violence.
Justus says that presumption is unacceptable–that many break-ins and burglaries are not done with any intent to inflict bodily harm. She maintains it’s wrong to have a law that excuses some one who reacts irresponsibly.
Another Senator, Joan Bray of St. Louis, suggests the proposal assumes that a burglar who wants to steal the family silver also plans to kill the family even if the burglar lacks the means or inclination to do so. She suggests the bill would let the homeowner acting irrationally escape prosecution.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Jack Goodman of Mount Vernon, has withdrawn his effort to get the Senate to accept the House changes. Any hopes he has of getting anything done in the few days left in this session rest on the willingness of the House to rescind its action and the willingness of opponents in the Senate to drop their opposition. Time is on the side of the opponents.