If legislators have their way, students working the graveyard shift will no longer have to worry about being prosecuted for protecting themselves from a midnight robbery.
The “Make My Day” law currently allows people to use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes, but Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, is supporting a bill that would apply the law to businesses and vehicles as well.
“I thought that’s the way it was already,” said Dennis Dinsmore, owner and managing partner of Wilbur’s Total Beverage, which employs CSU students. “I feel I should have the right to protect myself.”
Gardner agrees with business owners like Dinsmore.
“We must stop treating the victim like the criminal,” Gardner said Monday. “Why should it be any different to protect ourselves in our business than it is in our home?
House Bill 1011, dubbed “Make My Day Better,” passed in the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31 by a vote of 6-5 and has been referred to the Committee of the Whole with a favorable recommendation.
If the bill passes, any occupant of a dwelling, place of business or vehicle is justified in using any degree of force – including the use of firearms – against another person provided that person has made an unlawful entry and poses a reasonable threat.
“In that split of an instant when someone is breaking in our home or business, we must know that it is our right to defend ourselves,” Gardner said. “The first thought that runs through one’s mind shouldn’t be ‘Am I going to be charged with a crime for protecting myself?'”
The bill defines a vehicle as any means of conveyance “upon wheels or track or by water or air, whether or not intended for the transport of persons or property.”
“I think every citizen of the United States has a constitutional right to self protection. That certainly extends not only to houses but also to businesses.and also extends to vehicles,” said Sen. Ted Harvey, Senate sponsor for the bill. “Students are American citizens just like everyone else and should take solace in this bill if it passes.”
The National Rifle Association and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners have publicly backed the bill.
Lex Pulos, a graduate student studying speech communication, wondered what would be just cause for a business owner to use force.
“Bills have vague language,” Pulos said, “I know I disagree with a lot of businesses I come into, but I don’t want to get shot because I disagree with them.”
Clair Ami, a senior liberal arts major, shares Pulos’ concern.
“It would be hard to prove,” Ami said. “What if the guy behind the counter was having a bad day?”
Staff writer James Holt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.