Many issues have come up in the General Assembly during the 2012 Legislative Session, but one of the major debates involves a citizens’ right to resist unlawful entry into their homes. This week, the House passed Senate Bill (SB) 1 to preserve the Castle Doctrine while also providing protections for police officers. I voted in favor of the measure because I believe everyone should be permitted to stop an illegal action being forced upon them.
Last year, the Indiana Supreme Court, in Barnes vs. Indiana, issued a ruling denying Hoosiers the right to reasonably resist an individual who illegally enters a home. One decision rescinded a right put in place by our Founding Fathers more than 200 years ago.
Because of that, this session SB 1 was authored in order to put us back where the law stood prior to the Supreme Court decision; that Hoosiers must have the right to protect themselves and their homes against the unlawful actions of others.
This has been a controversial issue with passionate arguments on both sides of the debate. It’s important to remember that the two extremes—the person who wants to hurt a police officer, and the rogue police officer who abuses his power—are not going to be deterred by any law we make. Those people are criminals, and the law cannot stop a person from choosing to commit a crime.
Also, please understand that this bill does not provide immunity and we cannot make a blanket exception. Every case is different and that is why we must provide the opportunity for judges and juries to make these determinations.
Police officers are dedicated, honorable public servants who put their lives on the line for each of us every day. We ask them to protect us, and very often we do not give them the thanks they deserve. This legislation is not aimed at these selfless individuals. All we want is to restore a law that’s been in place for centuries, a law that allows people to protect themselves, their homes and their families from illegal actions. I believe SB 1 balances the need for freedom and safety, and I am proud to give my support.