Our local NBC affiliate did a report on the Castle Doctrine that passed here last year. No slant or hidden anti agenda. Refreshing...
Castle Law: Shoot or Don't Shoot?
By Howard Ballou
Mississippi recently joined a growing number of states adopting a version of the "Castle Doctrine." In a nutshell, the law removes the requirement that citizens must first seek a safe retreat from an intruder before using deadly force.
That raises an important question: Shoot or don't shoot?
Jennifer Koenigsberger was a on a routine grocery run when she was attacked in the parking lot by someone who wanted her purse.
"I got about 2 or 3 steps in front of him, and he attacked me from behind," she recalls.
Shoot or don't shoot? If you said shoot, the law is on your side.
Koenigsberger was not armed at the time, but under Mississippi's new Castle Law she would have been justified shooting her attacker.
"Her life and or her property is in imminent danger, so she has the right to do whatever she has to do to take care of herself -- including shooting him, running over him with the car, dragging him behind, whatever she's got to do to make herself safe," said Assistant Chief Lee Vance of the Jackson Police Department.
Jennifer's husband, Mark Koenigsberger, supports the legislation, saying he wouldn't hesitate to use deadly force.
"Especially with what happened to my wife and the way that it's changed her life," he said.
In 2007, Mississippi joined Tennessee and Missouri lawmakers adopting new provisions to the law commonly called the Castle Doctrine. In this state it allows anyone with or without a gun license to shoot an intruder who unlawfully comes into your house or the building you are visiting. You could even shoot a person trying to carjack you.
Paul Merritt is manager of Surplus City, a Clinton gunshop and firing range. He says people are taking this law seriously. Sales of firearms haven't necessarily spiked since the Castle Law went into effect, because so many Mississippians already own guns. However, they are sharpening their skills.
"We're having a lot more people come in and practice," Merritt said. "That's probably one of the best things they could do is practice."
Austin Prowant's never been faced with a decision to use deadly force, and he hopes he never is. But he likes the fact that he can if necessary.
"Mostly because if criminals know other people can shoot back, that's going to deter it themselves," Prowant said.
Assistant Police Chief Vance says the Castle Law won't change the way police do their jobs, but he, too, believes "locked and loaded" Mississippians can send a message to criminals.
"Maybe this will come into the back of their mind, and they may change their mind," Vance said. "Hopefully it will be a deterrent."
And maybe moms like Jennifer Koenigsberger won't have to suffer the pain of being a victim.
Assistant Chief Vance strongly recommends you learn how to properly handle a gun if you plan to own one. So far, there have been only two Castle Law cases in Jackson where deadly force was used.