The biggest conceit about HB 60, the second attempt by Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, to enact a frontier justice bill for Missouri, is her claim that she offered the legislation because of the people who came to her crying about this need to defend themselves.
That might have passed the truth test, were it not for the fact that cookie-cutter laws of the same kind, a key legislative goal of the National Rifle Association, have been enacted in 15 states.
As I have noted in previous editions of The Turner Report, Ms. Ruestman pays her annual NRA dues out of her campaign contributions, legal, I imagine, but questionable nonetheless. Ms. Ruestman needs to pay her NRA dues out of her own pocket, just as her most favored constituents do.
I would argue that Missouri (as well as the other states) has no need for a bill allowing people to use deadly force to defend their lives and property. They already have that right under present law. All the new law does is make it more difficult for law enforcement officers to prosecute or even interrogate those who abuse their new-found freedom.
In an article in this week's Chart, the Missouri Southern State University newspaper, Ms. Ruestman says people actually do not have the right to defend themselves and she explains her bill:
"A lot of people think you can already do that, but you can't," Ruestman said. "You might be sued and lose the home you were defending.
"I have even found cases where someone had defended themselves and bonked someone on the head with a lamp or something. Then the victim, the person who's home in which this occurred, was sued by the criminal's family. This doesn't sound very fair to me."
Ruestman said until now it's been thought that if someone enters your home that you should retreat or take time to figure out what their intent is.
"That maybe okay in some instances, but in some instances you're not going to be able to ask them what they intend to do to you," Ruestman said. "To me this is a victim's rights bill. This says we're the victim.
"It's our home, for heaven's sake, let's be able to protect it."
It would be nice if Ms. Ruestman would give specifics about this court case...and even nicer if she noted all of the cases in which people defended their lives and property, and other than questioning by the police (which should happen when anyone is killed or injured by gunfire, no matter what the circumstances, did not run into any problems at all.
At least in this article, Ms. Ruestman does not continue to talk about all of her constituents who banged on her door, demanding that this legislation be passed.