Stefano Introduces Bill to Expand Castle Doctrine

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HARRISBURG – Sen. Pat Stefano (R-32) has introduced legislation that would expand Pennsylvania’s Castle Doctrine to provide citizens with the ability to better protect themselves, their family and their property.

Sen. Stefano’s legislation would extend the self-defense protections afforded by Castle Doctrine beyond an individual’s dwelling to his or her property line.

“Forcing law-abiding Pennsylvanians to wait to defend their loved ones until a criminal enters their home could result in the unnecessary loss of innocent life – a tragedy made worse because it could have been prevented,” Sen. Stefano said. “The right to defend oneself should not be limited, as it is in the current weaker standard, based on whether individuals are inside their dwelling or on their property.”

The Commonwealth has a long history of affirming the rights of its citizens. While the United States Constitution acknowledges the rights of Americans to bear arms, Pennsylvania’s Constitution more strongly recognizes this right in Article I Section 21, which reads, “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.”

Yet, even as the words are clearly printed, victims of crime are unfortunately often forced into the position of defending their actions in frightening situations that most people will never face.

“It’s so very important to have clarity in the law so that when these dynamic, critical incidents happen and unfold, the people who are involved in them – who are trying to protect themselves – can do it with certainty,” said Kim Stolfer, President of Firearms Owners Against Crime.

This statute was last updated in 2011 to extend the principles of Castle Doctrine to extend the right of self-defense in places where the actor has the right to be if they believe themselves to be in danger of death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping, or rape. 

The bill is expected to be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review.

CONTACT: Jake Gery, jgery@pasen.gov