Deadly force debate in NH over self-defense bill intensifying

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August 23, 2011, 8:32 pm
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(NECN: Lauren Collins, NH) – In New Hampshire, the governor is standing up against a bill that would give gun owners more protection when it comes to using their weapons in self defense; it’s firing off an intense debate in the Granite State.

NH Governor John Lynch says the so-called deadly force bill emboldens gangs and drug dealers, “and I don't know why we would ever consider a bill that favors gangs and criminals over law enforcement.”

He wants legislature to maintain his veto when it convenes for a special session next months and he’s got support.

“When the police chiefs, the sheriff's association the department of safety, the department of justice say that a bill is going to result in potentially increased violence on our streets we should be listening,” said Michael Delaney, NH Attorney General.

The bill, also known as the Castle Doctrine, allows people to use a gun with deadly force in public if they feel their life is in danger. As it is, Granite State residents can only resort to that measure inside their homes or elsewhere if there is no way to escape.

Law enforcement say the state's current self-defense statutes go far enough and fear the deadly force bill could have explosive implications in a place like Hampton Beach.

“And in a public place like this with all the people, I think it's dangerous. I do, it really is dangerous,” said one beach goer.

“Very dangerous in situations with lots of families, lots of kids around. It's not a great idea at all,” said another.

Thirty-one other states have similar measures in place.

“And following passage of similar legislation in Florida, the number of civilians killed through justified homicides tripled,” said Delaney.  

 “It's like the Wild West, you know?” said Tom Wilary of Florida.

But House Speaker Bill O’Brien calls the legislation common sense and says it’s unreasonable to think people can simply turn and run if their life is on the line:

 “I think each one of us understand that we are going to have to be the source of our own protection if there's any immediate danger,” said O’Brien.

Tags: new hampshire, Bill O'Brien, John Lynch, Lauren Collins, Michael Delaney, castle doctrine, self-defense bill
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