Letter to the editor: Hoffman's bill makes sense
There seems to be a certain amount of confusion pertaining to Senator Gretchen Hoffman's bill. For the sake of simplicity, we will call it the "Stand your Ground Bill."
I would like to offer my assessment of the bill, and my opinion is based on 35 years of law enforcement experience, much of that time being involved in trainings such as SWAT, use of force, firearms, defensive tactics and officer survival skills. I am also a certified National Rifle Association (NRA) instructor, a certified Minnesota Permit To Carry instructor, a certified North Dakota Permit To Carry instructor, and a certified Utah Permit To Carry instructor. I have also testified as an expert on use of force issues in district and federal courts as well as grand juries.
There are several things the bill will do, should it be enacted into law. One of its primary components is that it will remove the citizen's responsibility to retreat from a violent encounter. Currently, Minnesota is a retreat state, meaning that anyone facing a potential threat must retreat or attempt to remove himself/herself from the situation. This bill would change Minnesota law so that the intended victim would not have to retreat, but would be justified in using force to neutralize the threat.
Another component of the proposed bill is that a homeowner may use deadly force to prevent another from forcibly attempting to enter his or her place of abode if they have reason to believe the person(s) are attempting to enter to cause death, great bodily harm or substantial bodily harm to the occupants of the dwelling.
It also expands the definition of place of abode to include curtilage, as well as wherever the person is spending the night. This could include your camper, cabin, tent, boat, or your vehicle should you be catching some shut-eye at a wayside rest.
There are more than 30 states that have enacted similar legislation and none have experienced the multiple gunfights that the naysayers have predicted would happen. In fact, I believe the crime rate went down in every state that passed similar legislation. This law empowers the law-abiding citizen, something I have supported all my career in law enforcement.
We, in law enforcement, won't be there when the mugger or rapist assaults you. We will show up in time to clean up the crime scene, gather the evidence, and notify your next of kin. And, hopefully, we will be able to put together a case, apprehend the perpetrator, prosecute him and maybe, just maybe, the courts will send him to jail.
However, this is small consolation to the victim or his/her family. The crime has already occurred and the victim's name has been added to a long list of other people who have been victimized by a violent offender.
Every year 2.5 million people legally and successfully use a firearm to protect their lives and property, 2.5 million times! Now this doesn't mean that the gun was fired every time. In fact, the majority of time shots were never fired, but when the would-be assailant saw that his intended victim had the ability and the means to defend himself or herself they decided to carry on their nefarious activities elsewhere.
I believe the bill is a good, common sense piece of legislation that will help protect the law-abiding citizens of the state of Minnesota. There are currently more than 20,000 laws pertaining to firearms and firearms ownership in the U.S., most are restrictive in nature. This one gives some latitude back where it belongs - to the good, law-abiding citizens of this country who have statistically used good judgment when it comes to employing deadly force.
I applaud Sen. Hoffman for her strong pro-Second Amendment stance since she has been in the Senate, and I hope she keeps fighting the good fight. God bless her.