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THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2006
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EDITORIAL

This house protected by Smith & Wesson

The Alabama Legislature is downright dangerous when its members set out to get themselves re-elected.

Take the deadly force bill that sailed through both houses and Gov. Bob Riley was quick to sign. That's a dangerous piece of legislation.

It basically says that a property owner can shoot first, then ask questions later ... if there is anyone left to ask.

Every person has the right of self-protection, but that right needs to be tempered with restraint.

This legislation signed into law Tuesday gives new legal protection to people who kill intruders who come into their homes, businesses and vehicles.

The existing law cautioned against using deadly force during a break-in, if the victim could do so with complete safety.

The new law allows a person to use deadly force "to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by the other person."

What a turnaround. The law goes from a person using restraint in fending off intruders to shooting if you think someone is about to burglarize your property.

Will the legislation result in more killings?

Gov. Riley suggested as much at the signing ceremony. "With this new law, the decision of crime victims who choose to protect themselves and their families won't be second-guessed," the governor said.

But shouldn't they be second-guessed? To not second-guess invites careless and aggressive behavior, even in law-abiding citizens.

The law's intent is good, but it's a political bone tossed to one of the nation's most powerful lobbying groups, the National Rifle Association, in an election year.

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