“The bottom line is rash decisions can have devastating, life altering consequences.”
–Indiana State Police spokesman
A husband is beating up his wife. She escapes to the bedroom, locks the door, and dials 9-1-1. As the police arrive at the front door, the hysterical wife tells the dispatcher that her husband is trying to kill her. She’s in the bedroom screaming. The abusive husband, who has taken a breather, is sitting in the living room when the police still hearing screams knock down the door. The husband, believing that the police are unlawfully entering his house, shoots the first officer dead.
Thanks to the National Rifle Association, Gov. Mitch Daniels, and the Republican legislators, this scenario and other variations are not only possible but legally defensible in Indidana. Senate Enrolled Act I extends the rationale of Stand Your Ground Laws against law enforcement:
“After close inspection, I have decided to sign Senate Enrolled Act 1. Contrary to some impressions, the bill strengthens the protection of Indiana law enforcement officers by narrowing the situations in which someone would be justified in using force against them. Senate Enrolled Act 1 puts into place a two-part test before a person can use deadly force against a law enforcement officer: First, it clarifies and restates the current requirement that a person reasonably believe the law enforcement officer is acting unlawfully. Second, it adds that the force must be reasonably necessary to prevent serious bodily injury to the citizen.
The new law effectively reverses a state Supreme Court ruling that homeowners do not have the right to use force against law enforcement officials whom they think are entering their homes illegally.
“The state Supreme Court [had] found that officers sometimes enter homes without warrants for reasons protected by the law, such as pursuing suspects or preventing the destruction of evidence. In these situations, we find it unwise to allow a homeowner to adjudge the legality of police conduct in the heat of the moment,” the court said. “As we decline to recognize a right to resist unlawful police entry into a home, we decline to recognize a right to batter a police officer as a part of that resistance.”
The National Rifle Association, according to Bloomberg News, pushed for the law, saying an unfavorable court decision made the need clear and that it would allow homeowners to defend themselves during a violent, unjustified attack. Police lobbied against it to no avail. Ironically, the actual case that brought about the state Supreme Court decision would not have been impacted by the law.
“In the real world,” Gov.
Orwell Daniels, ”there will almost never be a situation in which these extremely narrow conditions are met.” In other words, the law won’t affect reality very much.”So as a matter of law, law enforcement officers will be better protected than before, not less so.” And in the slim chance that reality will be effected, say, by a police officer being shot to the face, that police officer’s family can be consoled by the fact that statutes were on his side..
When dealing with the right-wing, we’re dealing with a virtual reality where it’s more important for them to see their abstract, right-wing perspective codified–one where gun owners are justified in applying lethal force to law enforcement–than it is to minimize “the chance that citizens hearing reports of change will misunderstand what the law says.”
Matt Stoller’s words, which I cited previously, encapsulate the Right’s mission. It’s not policy. It’s not even power. It’s “a complete and utter subjugation of the American consciousness to their tribal mentality. And they will not stop until they get it.”