Bill allows Georgians to defend themselves - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Bill allows Georgians to defend themselves

March 2, 2006

Albany - A bill passed Thursday in the state Senate would allow Georgians to shoot first and ask questions later, if they feel they're about to be attacked.

Senator Greg Goggans of Douglas is sponsoring the bill. It would provide immunity from prosecution for anyone who defends themselves if they're being attacked or fell threatened.

At a pawn shop, the threat of robbery is always high. And guns are coming in and out daily.

"You may not be able to tell if someone is coming to rob you or bring you a gun," said Dawson Road Jewelry and Pawn manager Jason Sheffield.

Jason Sheffield says he's doesn't take any chances with his safety. "We keep firearms close to us."

A gun he's trained and ready to us, if threatened. "If it came down to the point where my life would be threatened, I would definitely have to shoot back. You have to defend yourself," said Sheffield.

The proposed bill would allow Jason and others to use deadly force if they are being attacked or are threatened with an attack, without having to worry if later they will be sued by the attacker.

"As far as someone who comes on your property and threatens your life, I don't feel like t they have rights," said Sheffield.

The state agrees, in some cases. There's already a similar law allowing people to use force to protect their homes. But this bill would also apply to people who working, jogging, riding a bike, or walking through a parking lot. If you feel threatened by an attacker and own a gun legally, you can use it.

"It's a really good law to be passed." Sheffield says he has a constitutional right to bear arms, and he'll use it to save himself or the people he loves.

The bill, which is endorsed by the National Rifle Association, passed the Senate 40-to-13. The bill now goes to the House.

Critics say they fear the law could be used to justify shootings and other violence not associated with self-defense.

Sen. Goggans outlined SB 396 for the Senate:

  • If a criminal breaks into your home, your occupied vehicle or your place of business, you may presume he/she is there to do bodily harm and you may use any force against that person.

  • It removes the “duty to retreat” if you are attacked in any place you have a right to be. The “duty to retreat” is often taken to mean that before defending themselves a person must attempt to retreat or run away from their attacker.

  • It provides protection from criminal prosecution and civil litigation for those who defend themselves from criminal attack.

“I have heard from countless Georgians, expressing their support for this bill,” Goggans said. “People in our state believe we should have the right to protect ourselves first and foremost.

Sen. Greg Goggans represents the 7th Senate District which includes Atkinson, Bacon, Berrien, Clinch, Coffee, Echols, Lanier, Pierce, and Ware counties and portions of Cook County.

He may be reached by phone at 404.463.5263 or by e-mail at greg.goggans@senate.ga.gov

feedback: news@walb.com?subject=DefendYourself