State Rep. Chris Dinkins, R-Annapolis, has filed House Bill 663, which would change language in Missouri’s Castle Doctrine.
The changes intend to protect from prosecution citizens who defend their property, including through the use of deadly force.
In a news release issued Tuesday morning, Dinkins said the changes to the language were necessary to protect citizens like the McCloskeys of St. Louis, who were prosecuted for aiming weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters who were on their way to protest at the mayor’s residence, and strayed onto the property of couple’s Portland Place mansion.
“It seems like common sense to me that if someone is protecting their property, they shouldn’t be vulnerable to lawsuits for doing something that is legal,” Dinkins said. “Without appropriate Second Amendment protections, all our other rights are rendered useless.”
Former Gov. Matt Blunt first signed Senate Bill 62, the Castle Doctrine, in 2007, which removed the “duty to retreat” for victims of criminal attack and was heralded by NRA lobbyists. Within the first decade of the new millennium, several states had filed “stand your ground” laws.
The Castle Doctrine has been altered over the years, notably in 2009 when the Missouri Legislature put restrictions on deadly force in the home, but didn’t apply those restrictions to protections of private property; and in 2014 when the right to use deadly force in response to perceived threats — in or on property owned or leased — was extended to guests who were in or on property owned or leased, as well.
Dinkins’ filed changes discourage the prosecution or prosecution expenses incurred by those exercising the Castle Doctrine, which also requires those exercising it to prove credible threat. It endeavors to make them immune from being charged with a civil crime, she said.
“Notwithstanding the provisions of section 563.016, a person who uses force as described in section 563.041 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force,” the single-page House Bill reads. “The court shall award attorney's fees, court costs, and all reasonable expenses incurred by the defendant in defense of any civil action brought by a plaintiff or in any criminal prosecution if the court finds that the defendant is immune as provided in subdivision (1) of this subsection.”
“Missourians have a real concern with the impact of anti-Second Amendment prosecutors using their office to harass and charge law-abiding citizens,” Dinkins said. “(The McCloskeys) were fortunate to have the financial resources to defend themselves but you shouldn’t have to be a multi-millionaire to defend your rights as an American.”
She added that she filed the bill in response to a request from the Iron County Sheriff’s Department, who saw the need to close certain loopholes.
The 144th District that Dinkins represents encompasses Washington, Wayne, Reynolds and Iron counties. For more information, contact Dinkins’ office at 573-751-2112.
Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.