Manchin to Sign “Castle Doctrine” Bill

From the Beckley Register-Herald:

Manchin intends to sign ‘castle doctrine’

Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — When the National Rifle Association comes calling at the West Virginia Capitol with legislation in mind, it helps that the nation’s leading hunting and Second Amendment advocate has an ally in the Governor’s Mansion.

Such is the case with the NRA’s chief legislative goal this year — the so-called “castle doctrine” bill.

Gov. Joe Manchin is a lifetime NRA member and intends to sign the measure, which garnered nearly unanimous support in the Legislature, provided there are no legal foul-ups in the bill.

Twenty other states have enacted similar proposals that expand a homeowner’s right to protect hearth and home by using deadly force, if needed, to thwart a prowler.

And exercising such action isn’t limited indoors, either.

If an invader is about to commit a felony outside one’s home, force likewise is justified in the proposed law.

The key element in the NRA-backed bill, sponsored chiefly by Sen. Shirley Love, D-Fayette, is to provide a homeowner with protection in court if an intruder or his family brings a lawsuit after a violent confrontation. This bill says a property owner can use the burglar’s presence as “a full and complete” defense for using deadly force.

Florida became the first state to enact the castle doctrine, named after an old concept in English law that held a man’s home is his castle, and the wind, but not the king or, in modern application, a burglar, may not enter.

Manchin is on board with the legislation, first off because the Legislature overwhelmingly backed it. Only Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, opposed it in either chamber.

“We respect their decision,” communications director Lara Ramsburg said Wednesday of Manchin’s attitude toward legislation approved with landslide support.

A similar bill died in the House Judiciary Committee a year ago in the final week of the session. This one focuses on protection in lawsuits since West Virginia has never obligated a potential crime victim to retreat in the face of an adversary inside one’s domicile.

More importantly, however, is Manchin’s approval of the idea of safeguarding one’s home with protections afforded by the law, Ramsburg said.

“It is a concept that he supports in terms of protecting your own home,” Ramsburg said.

So far, the bill hasn’t arrived at the governor’s office.

“As always, our responsibility when we receive a bill, our legal staff looks at it to make sure it’s legally sound and there are no technical issues. Short of that, he intends to sign it.”

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