‘Castle Doctrine’ legislation in the hands of Hobbs

By Howard FischerMail | X: @azcapmedia
11 Min Read

PHOENIX — The fate of legislation some have charged will lead to the shooting of migrants is now in the hands of Gov. Katie Hobbs.
But what the legislation actually would do — assuming the governor does not wield her veto stamp — is less than clear.

On paper, House Bill 2843 simply expands existing law that allows individuals to threaten to use physical force to keep someone from trespassing on a premises.

That law, also known as the Castle Doctrine — based on the concept that someone’s home is their castle — does allow the use of deadly physical force. But it also says that can be “only in defense of himself or third persons.”

Rep. Justin Heap, R-Mesa, said the current defense appears to apply only to someone’s home or yard. He said the change he wants would expand that to cover someone’s farm or ranch and other buildings on that property.

But Heap, in describing the measure to a House committee, specifically mentioned an “increasingly larger number of migrants or human traffickers moving across farm and ranch land.” It also comes as Nogales rancher George Kelly is on trial in Santa Cruz County for shooting to death an unarmed migrant crossing his property.

Most damning, said Sen. Anna Hernandez, D-Phoenix, is that when Heap first described his bill to a House committee he said his legislation would fix a “loophole” that exists in the law about defense of premises.

“If a farmer owns 10,000 acres of farmland, his home may be a half a mile away from where he is,” Heap told colleagues in February. “And if he sees someone on his land, can he approach them and trespass them from his property?”

But when the bill was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Heap insisted this has nothing to do with shooting migrants.
Hernandez wasn’t buying it, saying Heap’s description leaves only one conclusion: What he wants to do is designed to provide some leeway for ranchers who go a step farther than chasing off trespassers and actually kill people crossing their property.

“How are you surprised about how this is being portrayed is unexpected?” she asked.

“I don’t know if this is unexpected to you,” Hernandez continued. And she told Heap that, in reading his bill, the conclusion that HB 2843 is meant to allow more people to use deadly force on their ranches “is exactly where I would have went with it.”

Heap said that’s belied by the actual wording of the proposal.

“This bill has nothing to do with migrants,” he told Hernandez. And he said it doesn’t change any other laws that deal with the question of when individuals can use deadly physical force.

So why, then, Hernandez ask, did he specifically mention the “increasingly larger number of migrants or human traffickers moving across farm and ranch land” when promoting the measure.

Heap said it was just reflecting what had occurred the day before.

“We had had the sheriff from Yuma County do a presentation,” he said. “And the sheriff had discussed the problem they had with farmers with migrants basically destroying the crops by crossing over their fields.”

So, he said, there is a link — at least from that perspective.

“I said this would be a concern: If you’re a farmer, are you allowed to go out to a migrant who’s crossing your field and trespass them from your property and tell them they have to leave,” Heap said.

But that, he said is the extent of his bill.

“You wouldn’t be justified in killing them unless they use physical force against you,” Heap said. And he said he used that example of the problems faced by ranchers in explaining his bill only because that’s what lawmakers had heard the day before.

Even a lobbyist for the Arizona Civil Liberties Union, testifying before the Senate panel against the legislation, conceded that, by itself, HB 2843 doesn’t legalize the indiscriminate killing of those walking across someone’s property.

“Someone who has used deadly physical force against someone who is trespassing would still need to demonstrate that a reasonable person would believe that deadly physical force had been necessary to protect themselves or others,” said Marilyn Rodriguez. “The physical force used cannot have been excessive.”

But she said what is clear is HB 2843 would expand where deadly force can be used — assuming it is justified — from situations now limited to what occurs inside someone’s house or immediate yard to now be anywhere on a person’s property, even if it’s a multi-acre ranch.

If nothing else, Rodriguez said just the discussion of expanding what constitutes defense of property to now include ranches and farms is dangerous.

The legislation, she said, comes amid increasingly hostile comments about migrants, most of whom,

Rodroguez said, are not smugglers but fleeing violence and persecution. And Rodriguez said HB 2843 sends a bad message.
“It is horrifying to imagine a world in which this bill becomes law in which people suddenly get the message that extra-judicial killings are now on the table and that the law will be on their side if they shoot first,” she said.

That drew an angry reaction from Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, who told Rodriguez all that is based on claims, fanned by what he said are erroneous news reports, that the legislation would make shooting migrants legally permissible.

“That is a lie,” he said. “And it’s been all over the newspapers.”

Still, Kavanagh acknowledged, the legislation could have an effect — and lead to more shootings — despite what he says is its clear wording.

“Some people may be killed because of misinformation gun control people have spread all over the place,” he said. “And decent people who are misled by that lie will wind up being prosecuted for criminally negligent homicide or manslaughter because they thought, based on things said to them by gun control advocates, that they can shoot to kill in their house.”

That provoked a reaction from Hernandez.

“You said it may cost a few lives, a few people may die,” she told Kavanagh. “I hope that we’re not saying that that is OK.”

And Hernandez said that already is happening across the country.
“People are shooting, people are killing people,” she said. “That’s why this bill is such a concern.”

Kavanagh remained unconvinced.

“Sometimes it’s good to shoot people when they’re going to shoot you illegally,” he said. “Sometimes it’s bad to shoot people because you’re a criminal or you listen to gun control advocates who misled you into thinking the Castle Doctrine, if extended outside or even inside, let’s you shoot somebody traipsing through your house at night.”

Anne Thompson, a volunteer representing Mothers Demand Action, questioned the need to create a special expansion of the right to use deadly force.

“Arizona already has a self-defense law that allows the use of deadly force when a person is threatened,” she told lawmakers. Thompson said that includes “a shoot-first law that allows people to shoot and kill others even if they know they could possibly safely walk away from the confrontation.”

She also said Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos is opposed to the measure.

In a February interview with KVOA-TV, he said the measure amounts to using deadly force when someone commits a misdemeanor like trespass. He cited a situation where an individual is playing ball and the ball goes into someone’s yard.

“I may go and retrieve the ball, and you can shoot me?” Nanos said.

“It’s not just nuts, it’s absolutely ridiculous and totally unnecessary,” he said. “I think it’s racist. I think it’s targeting.”

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero added her opposition in a post on X on Wednesday, calling the measure “dangerous and downright racist” and urging the governor to veto it.

“Granting property owners the right to shoot trespassers, claiming self-defense, is a heartless dehumanizing act of violence,” she wrote.

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By Howard FischerMail | X: @azcapmedia , www.yourvalley.net
2024-04-03 23:38:16 , "yuma county sheriff when:7d" – Vivrr Local

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