Responsibility key to keeping purpose of Castle Doctrine

There was a very fruitful public discussion about the state’s self-defense laws sponsored last week by state Rep. Rick Mirabito, a Williamsport Democrat who represents much of our region, and Lycoming County Assistant District Attorney Aaron Biichle.

In this age of regrettably high incidence of violence on our streets and in our homes, there can never be enough discussion of self-defense.

That discussion has heightened in recent years with passage in 2011 of the Castle Doctrine in Pennsylvania based on the premise that a home is a person’s castle.

Under that law, use of deadly force is allowable if a person has a “reasonable belief” that deadly force is immediately necessary to protect against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or rape if someone has broken into your home.

Those are a lot of important elements in the name of self-defense. The most important element, we believe, is “reasonable belief.”

We stand completely behind this law. If a person’s home is invaded and their life is in jeopardy, they certainly are entitled to defend themself without fear of any legal implication.

But as was pointed out at last week’s discussion, human life is sacred, for both the perpetrator and the person under attack. Those at the discussion were urged to seek safe retreat when that is possible and to not “bring a gun to a fist fight.”

The approval of the Castle Doctrine sparked concerns for a Wild West syndrome in which there would be rampant, unnecessary killing. That hasn’t happened.

As long as the reasonable belief portion of this law remains an important consideration, it should not happen. The Castle Doctrine is necessary. All parts of it.