Giving Iowans protection in cases of “justifiable force”


January 25th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A three-member panel has given initial approval to a proposal that would broaden the definition of “justifiable force” for Iowans who believe they face a threat from an attacker and shoot a gun in defense. Representative Matt Windschitl, a Republican from Missouri Valley, says it’s about protecting law-abiding Iowans from frivolous lawsuits.  “What we’re trying to address is Iowans’ individual right to protect themselves and their neighbors from any kind of threat or harm without having to face any kind of civil liability,” he says.

The three-member House subcommittee that considered the bill held a sort of public hearing yesterday that drew critics of the plan. Polk County Attorney John Sarcone suggested the proposed change would give defense attorneys another tool to try to justify the criminal conduct of gang members or those accused of domestic abuse.  “We’d allow people to get off because someone made a comment or looked at somebody the wrong way,” Sarcone said. This same “justifiable force” proposal was introduced in the Iowa legislature last year, too, but never cleared a committee in the House or Senate.

(O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)