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Minnesota law features a measure known as the Castle Doctrine, which allows a resident to use deadly force — that is, shoot — in self-defense against a trespasser in his or her home.

A Minnesota State House committee approved a bill recently that would make significant changes to the state’s gun laws. Although there are several facets to the bill, such as honoring in Minnesota concealed-carry permits issued in other states, the measure includes expanding the Castle Doctrine to allow a resident to shoot a trespasser who is outdoors on a patio, porch or in a garage, if the householder has a reasonable fear of his or her safety.

Opponents of the bill, which they refer to as “shoot first,” cite horror stories of innocent interlopers being killed. One example was of a teenage Ohio girl who was mooching around a “haunted house” in the dark. The man in the house heard a noise outside but couldn’t see anything. So, he pointed his rifle out the window and, by bad luck, shot the girl in the head.

Proponents cite anecdotes of people saving themselves from yard-invading attackers by pulling their guns.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, brushes off criticism of the bill as picking out a tragic case as if such aberrations are likely to become common. He compares the Personal Protection Act — as he calls it — to the concealed-carry law that he said hasn’t resulted in mass shootings.

Granted, people who want to carry a concealed weapon must take training courses and qualify for permits, so there is some control over the situation. The National Instant Criminal Background check system also is designed to prevent ineligible people, such as convicted felons, from obtaining concealed-carry permits.

Those might seem like extreme comparisons, but shooting someone who is on the porch and acting suspiciously is an extreme reaction. 

This only goes to show the clouded thinking of paranoia that hovers over members of both legislative branches in Minnesota.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.