Your house is your castle, even against the cops

Ashley Lynn Fisher, Evergreen columnist

No one should be exempt from the law, including those who enforce it.

Last March, Indiana’s former Governor Mitch Daniels signed into law an amendment allowing citizens the right to use deadly force against public servants who unlawfully enter their homes, according to an article by Bloomberg News.

Indiana is the first state to allow the use of lethal force against police officers in circumstances of unlawful intrusion. This is a huge step forward in respecting the citizen’s right to self-defense, as well as the rights of the homeowner.

The measure amends the 2006 Castle Doctrine Bill, which allows deadly force to stop illegal entry into a home or car. Essentially, the term “public servant” was added following the court’s ruling in order to encompass all people under the law – badges or not.

The law was revised after the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that there was “no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers,”according to the Indiana Law Blog.

The ruling in question was in response to the May 2011 Indiana case Barnes v. State. It was a domestic violence call that resulted in the assault of the responding police officer. Before the amendment to the law passed, citizens like Barnes had no right to protect themselves from abuse at the hands of authorities.

Proponents of the Second and Fourth Amendments – those who support the ownership of firearms and security against unlawful searches – are celebrating the recent revision. In today’s increasingly totalitarian society, it is necessary to honor the ideals of the Constitution and fight for the rights given to us by America’s forefathers.

Although the revision passed both chambers of the legislature by wide margins, the amendment has been met with an uproar of opposition from police organizations.

According to an article by Bloomberg News, Tim Downs, who is head of Indiana’s largest police union, opposes the revisions by arguing it opens the door for assaults on police officers. Downs states,”It just puts a bounty on our heads.”

This argument gives the impression that Indianans can wantonly open fire on police officers and be under the protection of the law. This is not the case. The revision clearly states, “A person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary,” according to the Senate bill.

The word “reasonable” appears multiple times in the revision to the Indiana law in order to stress that the amount of force a resident chooses to apply must be reasonable according to the circumstances. If a police officer walks onto a person’s lawn because he heard something suspicious, Indiana residents do not have free rein to immediately shoot him down.

The only reason police officers are opposed to the revision is because it weakens their power and provides another means to hold them accountable for violating citizen rights.

If you do not think police often overstep their authority, type into the Google search bar, “police officer abuse of power.” You will be shocked at the type of stories you will find that popular media sources choose not to cover.

Police officers have shot and killed countless innocent people, blaming the dim lighting of the room or the glinting wristwatch that looked like a gun. In nearly all of these situations the officers were cleared after prosecutors determined they made a reasonable error in judgment given the circumstances. Now in Indiana, citizens will finally be permitted the same consideration.

Society has granted members of law enforcement enormous power over citizens to preserve social order and keep the peace. They are allowed a great deal of freedom when deciding which laws to enforce, when and against whom. The problem is many police officers have forgotten that they are merely common citizens appointed to maintain order. Police officers are beginning to view themselves as more than enforcers of the law, but rather as the law incarnate.

If you still doubt the United States has evolved into a police state, look at recent headlines: NSA spying program, mass incarceration for drug possession, drone programs and SWAT teams knocking down doors for anti-government comments on Facebook.

The formation of a police state and Orwellian society is not on the rise; it’s already here. State legislators and citizens can no longer afford to sit back and fail to take action while we are being stripped of the few rights we have left.

We should applaud Daniels for pushing the revision of Indiana’s Castle Doctrine law and encourage other states to follow his lead. It will protect the rights of the homeowner and help to limit the abuse of the power of the badge. Stand by the principles of our liberty seeking nation; no one is above the law.

-Ashley Lynn Fisher is a junior english major from Gig Harbor. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this Column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.