Indiana: State House Gives Final Approval to Critical Castle Doctrine Legislation for Homeowners

Contact Your State Senator TODAY and Urge a Clean Vote of Concurrence 

Today, by a 74 to 24 vote, the state House of Representatives passed critical Castle Doctrine legislation that would return hundreds of years of common law and civil liberties protections to Hoosiers.  As previously reported, this legislation became necessary after a disastrous state Supreme Court decision last May concluded that public policy did not favor the longstanding and widely recognized right of an individual to resist an illegal trespass by a police officer, a right that had also been recognized by state statute.

Residents of Indiana were outraged last spring when the state Supreme Court ruled in Barnes v. State of Indiana (2011) that force against a police officer in such circumstances could never be justified.  This activist court decision created a dangerous carve-out from self-defense rights by prohibiting use of defensive force by a person even in the unlikely case of a violent, unjustified attack by an officer acting completely outside his lawful duties.  No one supports our nation's law enforcement officers more strongly than the NRA, and it is with this view in mind that the NRA has supported attempts to fix the precedent set in Barnes that violated the civil liberties of all residents of Indiana.

Until the Barnes decision, the touchstone of the law of self-defense (in Indiana and elsewhere) was reasonable good faith action in response to a reasonably perceived threat of illegal action or harm.  Contrary to some reports, the reasonable person standard does not protect those whose actions are motivated by malice, criminal intent, or abnormal sensitivity or paranoia. 

Senate Bill 1, authored by state Senator Michael Young (R-35) and sponsored by state Representative Jud McMillin (R-68), is the product of much discussion and debate on this matter. The Indiana General Assembly has worked for months on refining this legislation, which would re-affirm the Castle Doctrine in Indiana and allow law-abiding and reasonable people the right to a legal defense if ever they find themselves in such a position. The NRA has remained involved throughout this legislative process in order to protect these fundamental self-defense rights of law-abiding citizens in Indiana.

Before final passage today, thanks to NRA members’ communication to state Representatives, the House adopted a critical amendment by Representative Jud McMillin that would restore recognition of self-defense rights to the levels that existed pre-Barnes.  The language contained in the amendment specifically preserves the legitimate safety interests of law enforcement officials who act within the boundaries of the law.  Representative McMillin’s amendment to SB 1 effectively undoes the damage to the Fourth Amendment and the rights of Hoosiers caused by Barnes, and returns Indiana’s Castle Doctrine and self-defense protections to their pre-Barnes status.

Senate Bill 1 now returns to the Senate for its approval of the McMillin amendment. The Senate could simply vote to concur with this amendment, or send SB 1 to a conference committee where the legislation risks further changes, complications and attempts by opponents to erode your civil liberties.

Your state Senator NEEDS to hear from you TODAY to vote to concur on SB 1. Time is running out as the legislative session comes to a close, and it is crucial that the Senate concurs with the House amendment to protect Hoosiers’ civil liberties.