Minnesota governor vetoes "deadly force" bill

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 05, 2012 10:38 PM
Minnesota governor vetoes "deadly force" bill

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed a bill on Monday that would have significantly expanded the circumstances under which people could use deadly force when they felt threatened, a measure law enforcement groups said would have provided a recipe for getting away with murder.

Dayton, a Democrat, said he had to honor the concerns of law enforcement groups that had opposed the measure approved by the Republican-led state Legislature in February. The governor had until midnight on Monday to sign or veto the bill.

"When they strongly oppose a measure, because they believe it will increase the dangers to them in the performance of their duties, I cannot support it," Dayton said in a veto message.

Sponsors had said the bill would allow people to defend themselves against criminals with equal or even greater force wherever they might feel in imminent danger of physical harm.

The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association and the state's county prosecutors association opposed the bill along with other state law enforcement groups.

Nearly all U.S. states expressly permit the use of deadly force when people reasonably believe they or another person faces imminent danger of serious harm, according to data provided by the National Council of State Legislatures.

Most states also permit the use of deadly force to defend one's home, though many limit the circumstances.

The proposed Minnesota law would have extended the definition of dwelling beyond the house to include a porch, deck and enclosed yards. A car, mobile home, boat or tent also would be included.

Dayton said existing law allows "law abiding citizens" to use deadly force to defend themselves or others inside or outside their homes as long as it is reasonable.

The vetoed bill also would have allowed anyone to claim they had acted reasonably in using deadly force, an "ill-advised" change from the current standard, Dayton said.

Dayton also objected to a provision that would have allowed visitors to Minnesota who had gun carry permits from any other state to be armed during their visit. The state recognizes permits from states with similar background checks and training requirements.

The bill passed the state's House and Senate easily, but a few votes short of the support needed to override Dayton's veto.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Peter Bohan)