My testimony in favor of HB160, "Extending the Castle Doctrine"

By Neil Rowland

 

The following is testimony I gave before the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, on January 29. I was the last of many speakers, a great majority of whom were in favor of the bill.

 

I am here to speak in favor of civilized society. I am here to speak in favor of moral sanity. I am here to speak in favor of the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In short, I am here to speak in favor of HB160.

 

For reference and for some much needed clarity, I will number my points.

 

1: 1. The Castle Doctrine is valid.

 

There are those who seem either not to grasp the Castle Doctrine or not to believe in it. Many of them are New Hampshire lawmakers. I therefore think it prudent to spell out the doctrine and the case for it now.

1a. The police cannot conceivably defend us adequately all by themselves.

 

David Kenik in the book Armed Response spells out the implausibility:

 

"If the job of the police were to protect you as an individual, they would have protect all other citizens as well. In that circumstance, everyone would need a personal police officer 24 hours a day. Three quarters of the populace would be required to be employed as police officers to protect the remaining citizens, each hour of the day and night."

 

I think it would less intrusive on our liberties, and also far cheaper, simply to allow law abiding citizens to defend themselves. Police can help, but they can’t do it all by themselves, and they should not be encouraged to make the attempt. We do not want a police state!

 

Now the right to carry helps somewhat, and explains why our state’s crime statistics are less awful that some other states. But the right to carry by itself is limited in its power. It functions solely as a deterrent, and deterrents often fail. An attacker may be too deranged to care, or he may decide the defender is frightened of being sent to the electric chair, and so call thebluff. The only defense against your bluff being called is not to be bluffing!

 

Furthermore, in such situations, the slightest hesitation can be fatal. Do not
plant doubts in a defender’s mind!

 

1b. The state restricts our legal right to defend ourselves in statute law, section 627:4.

 

1c. To the extent that the police fail to defend us where we are denied the right to defend ourselves, we are legally denied the right to life.

 

1d. Any death resulting from such a situation constitutes negligent homicide on the part of the state. This makes the state illegitimate.

 

From the New Hampshire Constitution:

 

[Art.] 3. [Society, its Organization and Purposes.] When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.

 

In 1982, a federal court of appeals said:

. . . [T]here is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen. It is monstrous if the state fails to protect its residents against such predators, but it does not violate the due process clause of the Fourteen Amendment or, we suppose, any other provision of the Constitution. The Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: it tells the state to let people alone, it does not require the federal government or the state to provide services, even so elementary a service as maintaining law and order.

 

2: Given that the Castle Doctrine is valid, it makes sense to extend it to anywhere the defender has a legal right to be.

 

The point is our rights to travel and to assemble peaceably.

 

Why should we have to choose between putting our lives in danger or being
prisoners in our own homes?

 

3. Currently there are restrictions on what a person can do legally do defend himself away from the home.

 

New Hampshire statutes, section 627:4.III. A person is not justified in using deadly force on another to defend himself or a third person from deadly force by the other if he knows that he and the third person can, with complete safety:

(a) Retreat from the encounter, except that he is not required to retreat if he is within his dwelling or its curtilage and was not the initial aggressor;


Why these restrictions? What good purpose do they serve, and how?

(It's been pointed out that the prosecutor would bear the burden of proof. But why should we have to go to court in the first place? Why pay all that money to be at the mercy of the smarter lawyer?)

 

4. The Lynch veto of a similar bill in 2006 was for stated reasons that made no sense.

 

From the Concord Monitor:

 

"We do not want to put in place a law that would encourage felons to inject further

violence in our communities," Lynch said. "Under this proposed legislation, one drug dealer, or other hardened criminal, could kill another and then claim self-defense in court."

 

So Lynch is more concerned about violence against other criminals that about violence against law abiding citizens? Something is very wrong with his priorities here!

 

Supposing violent criminals kill each other off. This harms society how? Wouldn’t the cull of maniacs make the rest of us safer?

 

This is both logically absurd and morally reprehensible. The veto ought to have overridden decisively.

5. THEREFORE: this bill should be passed, and any veto should be overturned.

 

Bio: Neil Rowland of is a Web developer and database application developer residing in Fremont. New Hampshire.