Friday, April 6, 2012
"Make My Day..."
In the 1983 film, “Sudden Impact,” San Francisco’s most trigger happy police officer “Dirty” Harry Callahan, played by Clint Eastwood, wandered into a local coffee shop where unbeknownst to him a robbery was taking place. Callahan leaves the shop and the robbery continues. To the robbers’ surprise, Callahan returns to “complain about the coffee” and dishes out some justice with his partners, Smith and Wesson. As a surviving thief was about to leave with a hostage, Callahan points the gun in his face and says another one liner that we all have come to love from him. “Make my Day.” This quote would be used repetitively through history for various reasons including Colorado’s Make My Day Law.
The Make My Day Law, also more commonly known as the Castle Doctrine, allows a person to use deadly force to defend themselves against an intruder if they feel threatened on their property. Passed in 1985, the origins of the Castle Doctrine date back to ideas in English Common Law that state that one should be able to feel safe on their own property and can use deadly force to preserve that safety. Provisions in this statute include that the intruder unlawfully entered the property and intends to commit a crime on said property. Furthermore, the property owner must have reasonable belief that the intruder is also going to use physical force.
Although the ideas behind the Make My Day Law have not changed in hundreds of years, expansions on the law have been attempted in Colorado, but have not made much progress. The expansion on the law dubbed the “Make My Day Better Law” would give business owners the right to use deadly force in protecting themselves while at work and place of business. Some people including bill sponsor Sen. Kevin Grantham believe that self defense should not be limited to the confines of someone’s property.
"Folks that are going to protect themselves in their place of business are going to do that anyway. People that aren't, aren't," Grantham said. "What this changes is the viewpoint of the judicial system and the law on how you treat those individuals who actually have to do that."
Other groups including the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police opposed the legislation. These individuals believe that this would “open the door to allow a shop owner to use deadly force in circumstances where a customer has a complaint, becomes vocally aggressive, refuses to leave.”
The “Make My Day Better Law” passed in the Colorado House of Representatives, but failed on a 3-2 party-line vote in a Democratic-led committee.
There are many states that have some sort of self-defense law in place for individuals in their homes or businesses. Both Wisconsin and North Carolina have passed laws within the past year that give business owners the right to use deadly force. Alaska has considered legislations that would grant people the right to defend themselves anywhere they have the right to be whether it is a restaurant, public or sporting event, or other places that people go on a day to day basis. Oklahoma even considered granting the right to self-defense protection within churches and other religious institutions.