From the Beckley Register-Herald:
Senate unanimously OKs ‘Castle Doctrine’ bill
By Mannix Porterfield
CHARLESTON — Senators agreed Tuesday that one’s home is a castle, open to the wind but not to intruders with evil in mind.
And if any is caught pilfering, the owner is allowed to use deadly force, and may use the fear of a threat the intruder poses as a “full and complete defense” in case the burglar files a lawsuit over his wounds.
As things turned out, the bill’s leading proponent the past two sessions, Sen. Shirley Love, D-Fayette, wasn’t around to take part in the 32-0 tally that propelled the “Castle Doctrine” bill on to the House of Delegates.
Love missed a second straight day, tending to an ailing sister in another state, his secretary explained.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeffrey Kessler, D-Marshall, made note of Love’s lead sponsorship of the bill, saying it was intended to protect families and homeowners from acts of invasion and violence.
A stronger version was offered in time to beat the 41st day deadline for offering legislation by Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Unger, D-Berkeley.
Unger offered his own tack, one that would disallow a wounded intruder to even file a lawsuit in the first case.
In the Eastern Panhandle, Unger said, seniors increasingly have become targets of burglars who apparently consider them easy marks for break-ins.
To Unger, the idea of a senior citizen forced to use deadly force to thwart an invader, then face a lawsuit, was unthinkable.
“They amend it over in the House and it may have to come back for conference,” Unger said.
For now, he said, the Senate at least has a Castle Doctrine bill out, and like any other proposed law, it can be altered if the need presents itself.
“We can always come back and tweak it in the future, be it this session or a future session,” he said.
The measure was pushed by the National Rifle Association, and so far, at least 20 states have some form of it.
Perhaps, Unger suggested, seniors could be accorded some extra protection outside the concept of the Castle Doctrine.
“Maybe in enhanced penalties or whatever to people who prey on seniors and put them at risk,” he said.
“Who knows what we can do as far as the crimes and type of penalties associated with it?”