UPDATE: The state Assembly concurred Friday morning with Senate changes to castle doctrine legislation, clearing the way for the governor’s signature. The Senate amendment, authored by Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, includes EMTs and fire fighters in the bill’s language exempting police officers from some aspects of the bill.
Legislation giving property owners the ability to shoot an intruder without fear of civil and criminal liability has cleared the state Senate.
State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) says the so-called “Castle Doctrine” will allow home and business owners to take action against dangerous intruders without having to worry about being charged with a crime. The Racine Republican says people should not have to take time to think about possible criminal charges when faced with someone breaking into their home.
During debate Thursday, several Democrats raised concerns that the bill could put innocent people at risk because of the broad definitions included. State Senator Jon Erpenbach says it applies to any structure on a property, which could include a driveway or front porch.
State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) says it could just as easily be called the “kill the milkman bill” because people will have almost unquestioned authority to shoot trespassers. Supporters argue that’s unlikely to happen though, and the measure just allows residents to protect themselves.
Wanggaard says it’s “fundamentally about protecting life, not property.”
The bill passed on a bipartisan 26-7 vote. The Senate added an amendment clarifying that emergency responders, not just police, are protected under the bill. The change will require approval from the Assembly, which passed a different version of the legislation on Tuesday.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:01)