FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
State Rep. Ted Harhai
Harhai supported Castle Doctrine bill that awaits governor's signature
HARRISBURG, June 21 – State Rep. Ted Harhai, D-Fayette/Westmoreland, today said he was pleased that the Senate voted by a wide margin Monday to send to the governor the legislation known as the Castle Doctrine bill, which would expand a person's right to use deadly force in certain personal defense situations.
Harhai was among the affirmative votes when the House approved the bill (H.B. 40) 164-37 in April. The Senate vote was 45-5.
"I am pleased with the sizeable margin of approval because it shows the legislation was advanced through a heavily bipartisan consensus," said Harhai. "This wasn't a bill that was stamped out according to some formula and forced on us. Both sides negotiated and compromised on its features over several months and took input from Pennsylvania law enforcement groups and the Pennsylvania District Attorney's Association."
Harhai said he talked with many of his constituents about the Castle Doctrine and the vast majority wanted to see additional legal recognition of situations in which the use or threat of deadly force can legally be employed to protect themselves and their families.
The Castle Doctrine bill now in front of the governor for his signature would change existing law by removing a person's duty to retreat or find a safe place from danger before resorting to deadly force. Individuals threatened with imminent attack would have the right to stand their ground when threatened, so long as they do not provoke the attacker. Castle Doctrine defense would not only apply to a residence's interior, but also to the porch, deck or patio.
In addition to changing criminal law, the Castle Doctrine bill would give civil immunity when people can justify the need to protect themselves against a perpetrator who is threatening them with death, serious bodily injury, rape or kidnapping.
"One aspect I cannot emphasize enough is that the Castle Doctrine does not, does not apply to any form of resistance to officers of the law in the performance of their duty," added Harhai. "It is not blanket permission to shoot without exercising common sense or as an excuse to fire at or threaten a law enforcement officer with a firearm."