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Missouri House OKs Bill That Could Allow Babysitters, Bar Patrons, And Shoppers To Use Deadly Force

BY NICOLE FLATOW MAY 7, 2014 AT 1:20 PM UPDATED: MAY 7, 2014 AT 1:34 PM

The Missouri House easily passed a bill this week to allow more individuals to use deadly force in self-defense. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Don McGaugh (R) portrays the bill as authorizing deadly force by a babysitter or nanny “in the event of a home invasion.”
“This is a common sense extension of the law that would empower a nanny or babysitter, or anyone with the owner’s permission to occupy a property, to defend himself or herself against an intruder,” McGaugh said in a press release.

But whether McGaugh knows it or not, the text of the bill suggests it is far broader, potentially authorizing individuals in any privately owned space where they are authorized to be — including sports stadiums, retail shops, bars, and restaurants — to use deadly force against perceived unlawful entrants. The bill states that force is permitted against a person who “unlawfully enters, remains after unlawfully entering, or attempts to unlawfully enter private property that is owned or leased by an individual, or is occupied by an individual who has been given specific authority by the property owner to occupy the property, claiming a justification of using protective force under this section.”

Missouri property law expert Dale A. Whitman told ThinkProgress that such “occupants” could include somebody who’s eating a hamburger at a McDonald’s, parking in a parking lot, or visiting a movie theater. Under the bill that just passed the house, any of these individuals would be authorized to use deadly force without any duty to retreat when they reasonably believe the force is necessary to defend themselves.

In many ways, the bill mirrors Stand Your Ground laws, which authorize deadly force without a duty to retreat anywhere an individual has a legal right to be. But unlike Stand Your Ground laws, the basis for using deadly force is not fear of imminent death or great bodily harm; it is protecting against “unlawful entry.” So, for example, a patron at a sporting event who sees someone enter the event without a ticket and believes they need to defend other sporting patrons might take it upon themselves to shoot that person.


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