Right to deadly force expanded

Legislation approved Monday by state lawmakers will expand citizens’ ability to use lethal force in self-defense situations in Pennsylvania — but some lawmakers said it will create problems for police.

The controversial bill was given final legislative approval by the state House by more than a 4-1 margin Monday and now awaits a final say by Gov. Ed Rendell.

Current state law gives residents the right to use lethal force, without duty to retreat, if they are threatened inside their home. The new law would expand upon it to include any situation outside the home where a person feels threatened, as long as the defenders are not trespassing.

The bill’s critics say the legislature encourages a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality. Rep. Cherelle Parker, D-Pa., argued against the bill due to potential problems the bill could cause for police and the court system.

“Representatives of our law enforcement community and our legal system have stated that this legislation could create serious problems in Pennsylvania,” Parker wrote in a letter to Gov. Rendell.