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Police chiefs aim to defeat ‘Shoot First’ bill

The police chiefs from St. Paul and Minneapolis — along with state Sen. John Harrington, who used to be St.

The police chiefs from St. Paul and Minneapolis — along with state Sen. John Harrington, who used to be St. Paul’s chief — spoke out today against the controversial “Shoot First” proposals moving through the Legislature.

The bill — HF 1467 — would allow homeowners to use deadly force against someone who enters their residence even if it was an accident or the person posed no danger. And it would extend the definition of a “dwelling” to “an overnight stopping destination of any kind” or “a motor vehicle, watercraft, mobile home, tent, or the equivalent.”

The bill would “endanger Minnesota citizens as well as law enforcement officers,” Harrington said at a press conference today. “Though I believe the intentions of this bill may have been to provide a sense of security to some, I am afraid it falls far short of creating any real public safety value and in turn will hinder law enforcement’s ability to effectively keep the peace.”

He said the bill could even help gangs:

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“This provision would also provide legal cover for gang members to shoot and kill without any duty to retreat when involved in a confrontation with other gang members, and it would be more difficult to charge offenders for shooting someone because they could just claim they were threatened or another gang member was coming to get them.”

Harrington, a first-term legislator, retired as St. Paul Police chief last year.

Current law says a person can kill someone in self-defense only as a last resort.

Said St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith:

“This proposed legislation will not only put officers’ safety at risk, it will allow for minor disturbances to be construed as a ‘threat.’ Our job as Saint Paul Police Officers is to work with our residents to ensure their safety, and the proposed legislation, in its current form, is ambiguous when it comes to the use of deadly force.”

The bill also includes a provision to allow firearm permits issued anywhere in the country to be valid in Minnesota, even though many states do not require Minnesota’s extensive background checks and firearms training.

More guns on the street is not a good idea, said Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan:

 “A study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that those without guns are four times safer than those with guns when confronted by an armed assailant. Having and wearing a gun comes with heavy responsibilities and risks. The most well trained people in the United States with guns are your police, and yet we are still targets of those who would commit crimes.”