DENVER (AP) – Colorado Senate Democrats rejected legislation to expand self-defense protections for businesses, saying Monday the proposal would give too much leeway to use deadly force against suspected intruders.
“This dramatically changes self-defense,” said Sen. Rollie Heath, a Democrat from Boulder.
Colorado homeowners already have self-defense protections against invaders under the state’s “Make My Day” law. The proposal to expand those protections to businesses was dubbed “Make My Day Better.”
The bill, which earlier passed the GOP-controlled House, failed Monday on a 3-2 party-line vote in a Democratic-led committee known for rejecting Republican proposals. The defeat was expected.
“We know where the cow eats the cabbage in the Senate,” said Sen. Kevin Grantham, a Republican from rural southeastern Colorado who sponsored the bill. “But it’s still an issue that deserves the light of day.”
Grantham said self-defense protections should not be limited to people’s homes. He said if the bill became law, it wouldn’t lead to an increase in the use of deadly force, but it would make it so business owners and employees wouldn’t face unnecessary prosecutions for defending themselves at work.
“Folks that are going to protect themselves in their place of business are going to do that anyway. People that aren’t, aren’t,” Grantham said. “What this changes is the viewpoint of the judicial system and the law on how you treat those individuals who actually have to do that.”
Most states have some variation of a self-defense law for either homes or businesses. Alaska is considering a bill this year that would give people the right to defend themselves anywhere they have a right to be. Oklahoma is considering a bill to giving self-defense protections inside a church.
Wisconsin and North Carolina passed laws last year giving business owners the power to use deadly force.
The Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police opposed the legislation. George Hughes, the police chief at the Colorado School of Mines, said the group opposed the bill because it would “open the door to allow a shop owner to use deadly force in circumstances where a customer has a complaint, becomes vocally aggressive, refuses to leave.”
“Situations like these can’t, and should not be resolved, with a gun,” he said.
But Mike Violette, with the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police, said the fears from opponents that the bill would lead to more violence were unfounded. He said those who opposed Colorado’s “Make My Day” bill in the 1980s cited the same concerns, but that the law has worked.
Democrats said the bill went too far because it allows business owners and employees to use deadly force when they perceived that their property was threatened. Sen. Bob Bacon, a Fort Collins Democrat on the committee that defeated the bill, said wouldn’t support the bill for that reason.
“It’s power over the use of lethal force in order to protect property, and I’m not willing to go there,” he said.
The bill has come up several times in the Colorado Legislature and Grantham said it’s an issue he doesn’t expect will go away.
Earlier, the same committee voted down a Republican proposal that would prohibit the state government from seizing people’s firearms during a state of emergency.
LINK: House Bill 1088
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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