Should New Hampshire amend the legal use of deadly force?
By: LFDA Editor
Under "Castle Doctrine" laws, a resident may use deadly force without first attempting retreat, if the resident is attacked in his or her home. Under so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, a resident may use deadly force anywhere
he or she has a right to be without first attempting retreat.
Prior to 2011 New Hampshire had a "Castle Doctrine" law. In 2011 the state legislature overrode then-Governor Lynch's veto of SB 88
, a bill that expanded the legal use of deadly force to a "Stand Your Ground" law.
Supporters of "Stand Your Ground" argue that residents have a right to defend themselves from attack no matter the circumstances. Supporters also argue that empowering citizens to defend themselves with lethal force may deter criminals.
Opponents of "Stand Your Ground" argue that the law should not permit escalation to lethal force when retreat is possible. Many point to the case of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager living in Florida who was shot to death after being pursued by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. Although he later faced trial, police first cleared Zimmerman under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Rep. Max Abramson was the primary sponsor of HB 598, a 2015 bill that changes the definition of deadly force to include only acts that actually result in death or permanent injury. The current definition of deadly force includes acts with the intent or risk of serious injury, such as firing a firearm in the direction of another person. The House killed HB 598 in March.
No legislator requested a 2014 bill related to the legal use of deadly force.
On March 27, 2013, the House narrowly passed (189-185) Rep. Steven Shurtleff's proposed HB 135. The bill sought a return to the state's original Castle Doctrine, limiting the use of deadly force to incidents on one's own property. The Union Leader quoted Shurtleff, a retired U.S. marshal, as saying, "The new law says you have a right to use deadly force anyplace you have a lawful place to be, and that would include Hampton Beach or a fair. To me, that just went beyond the pale." The state Senate tabled the measure two months later, however.