Local officials applaud Castle Doctrine
BY TERI BURTON, THE DICKSON HERALD
Law-abiding Dickson Countians can rest assured that if they come under criminal attack, fear for their lives and defend themselves using deadly force, the law is now on their side.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen recently signed into law the National Rifle Association-backed “Castle Doctrine Bill,” putting the law “back on the side of the victim the way it’s supposed to be,” said Chris Cox, the chief lobbyist for the NRA, in a press release.
The bill also provides civil immunity for those who defend themselves from criminal attack, Cox said.
Sponsored in the Senate by state Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, the “Castle Doctrine Bill” passed both sides of the aisle with unanimous bipartisan support and was signed by the governor May 25.
“The bill passed with an overwhelming vote in the Senate,” Jackson said Wednesday after the General Assembly adjourned for the summer. “This bill provides a level of security to a law-abiding citizen who is forced to use deadly force against an intruder or an attacker, not just in your home but also any other buildings on your property and also in your automobile.”
Jackson said the bill had been stalled in the state House of Representatives for quite a while before it finally passed this session.
He said it’s been a long time in coming and extends current laws affecting self-defense in the event of a criminal attack.
“The bill had struggled in previous sessions in the House but fortunately the bill did come out of the House,” Jackson said. “What it does is establish a presumption that deadly force was used in self-defense if there is an intruder not just in your home.
"It extends what has been the ‘Castle Doctrine,’ that is, your home is your castle. (If) an intruder intrudes in your ‘castle,’ there’s a presumption that deadly force was appropriate to impose on an unlawful intruder.”
He said that over the many years he’s represented the district, including his service as state representative before he was elected to the Senate, his constituents approached him about extending current laws that made it difficult for individuals to exercise their right of self-defense.
“Now, if you’re in an automobile and someone tries to attack you there, or someone tries to do a car-jacking, you have a right to use deadly force and the law would presume that that force was lawfully used,” Jackson explained.
“It also means that there will not be a duty to retreat. If’ you’re walking down the street and someone threatens you with force you have the right to respond in kind with force. There is no longer a duty to retreat.”
He said the new law also provides reassurance for citizens who lawfully carry firearms so that when they use guns in self-defense against an unlawful intruder they won’t face criminal charges.
“And they’re not going to be faced with civil litigation,” he said.
“Gov. Bredesen and Tennessee lawmakers recognize the value of ensuring that law abiding citizens have the option and the right to protect themselves when criminals attack,” Cox said.
“On behalf of NRA members in Tennessee, I applaud Rep. Randy Ricks (D-71st District) and Senators Doug Jackson (D-25th District) and Paul Stanley (R-31st District), for their diligence in passing this important bill into law.”
Cox said the legislation is a victim’s rights measure that puts the law on the side of victims “who don’t have the luxury of time when confronted by a criminal.”
Dickson County Sheriff Tom Wall said he’s pleased with the new legislation.