Self Defense bills 5142-43,5153 and 5548; and Senate Bills 1046 and 1185 have all been passed by the Senate as of today June 7,2006
Michigan Senate approves self-defense bills
6/6/2006, 5:28 p.m. ET
By DAVID EGGERT
The Associated Press
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state Senate approved legislation Tuesday aimed at fortifying and clarifying self-defense rights in Michigan.
The bills would allow people to use deadly force, with no duty to retreat, if they reasonably think they face imminent death, great bodily harm or sexual assault. They could use deadly force on their property or anywhere they have a legal right to be.
The legislation also would protect people from civil lawsuits if they have used force in self-defense.
The six-bill package is backed by the National Rifle Association but opposed by anti-gun groups. The Senate voted 28-10 and 30-8 to pass two bills, and plans to send the other bills in the package to the House Wednesday.
Critics said the legislation is dangerous and not needed because prosecutors already don't charge a person who has justifiably used deadly force to protect themselves.
"We're creating a wild west mentality in this state and I oppose it," said Sen. Liz Brater, an Ann Arbor Democrat who voted against the bills.
But Sen. Alan Cropsey, a DeWitt Republican and sponsor of one bill, cited a case where an Eaton County woman was sued after defending her husband during an attack. She won the suit but incurred legal expenses.
"This type of nonsense needs to end," said Cropsey, adding that much of the legislation codifies existing judge-made law.
One bill would require judges to award attorney fees to those who are sued when it's determined they had reasonably used force to act in self-defense.
Another bill would create a "rebuttable presumption" — a legal advantage that assumes, unless there's strong proof to the contrary, that people honestly and reasonably believe they face death, rape or great bodily harm when someone breaks into their home.
The presumption, however, would not apply in certain domestic violence situations, disputes involving family members or the police, and if the person using force is breaking the law.
The House already has approved earlier versions of some bills.
Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm has expressed concerns that the scope of the House legislation is too broad. But spokeswoman Liz Boyd said Tuesday the governor is leaning toward supporting the legislation after Senate changes.
Supporters say the legislation is needed partly because current law requires people to first retreat, which supporters say puts them at a disadvantage.
Critics worry the legislation could spark a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mentality that winds up with innocent people getting shot.
One Republican — Shirley Johnson of Troy — and nine Democrats voted against a bill allowing deadly force to be used in self-defense: Brater, Irma Clark-Coleman of Detroit, Gilda Jacobs of Huntington Woods, Burton Leland of Detroit, Bob Emerson of Flint, Hansen Clarke of Detroit, Martha Scott of Highland Park, Buzz Thomas of Detroit and Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing.
Eight of them — not including Whitmer and Jacobs — voted against the bill creating a rebuttable presumption.