Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Dayton veto looms over deadly force legislation

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 40-23 Thursday to expand gun rights by allowing gun owners to use deadly force virtually anywhere if they perceive a threat of bodily harm.

Gov. Mark Dayton won’t be too hasty with his veto pen for the so-called Castle bill that significantly broadens gun rights by expanding the justification for self-defense.

He told state Rep. Tony Cornish, the bill’s Republican author from Good Thunder, that he would not veto the bill immediately.

But Dayton also sent a clear signal he’s all but made up his mind to veto the legislation.

“I promised Representative Cornish I would wait three days,” he said. “But I give serious weight to the unanimous opposition from law enforcement.”

The Republican-controlled Senate voted 40-23 Thursday to expand gun rights by allowing gun owners to use deadly force virtually anywhere if they perceive a threat of bodily harm. The bill does not require the individual in that situation to retreat, and makes the citizen immune from criminal prosecution. In other words: defend first, ask questions later.

Police chiefs, county attorneys and police officers have criticized the legislation, calling it a threat to their personal safety.

A provision was inserted into the bill late Thursday to deal with that criticism. The language, added by Senate author Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas, provides that gun owners cannot use deadly force if the person fired on is believed to be or suspected to be a law enforcement officer.

But Cornish predicted the new language wouldn’t satisfy critics. “There will be no doubt that when the bill leaves the floor, it will answer law enforcement concerns about their safety,” Cornish said. “But I expect they will find other reasons to object.”

And Cornish was correct.  John Harrington, DFL senator from St. Paul and the city’s former chief of police, voted against the bill, saying: “This will make it such that [police] have to worry about the homeowner who may have the officer in their sight. It will make people less safe.”

In defense of the bill, Cornish cited what he called “the horror stories” that circulated before the passage of legislation allowing Minnesotans to carry concealed weapons. None of those stories came true, he said.

Furthermore, he said, 38 other states have Castle bills, legislation based on the Castle Doctrine, a legal rule allowing a person to use deadly force as self-defense against an intruder in his or her home.

Last year the Republican-controlled House approved the legislation; House lawmakers will need to approve some small revisions before sending the legislation to Dayton’s desk.

But Cornish is not expecting a turnaround in the governor’s office to support the bill. If Dayton wants to talk, “I wait for his call,” Cornish said.

Responded Dayton: “My office is always open. But I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not taking the concerns of law enforcement seriously. People have the right to defend themselves but this would give citizens the right to use weapons even law enforcement doesn’t have and would make prosecution almost impossible.”

Comments (40)

  1. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 02/24/2012 - 11:09 am.

    Bill too restrictive

    What about those of us without guns? If I feel threatened by someone in a Prius tailgating me, can I slam on the brakes of my F-150 to protect myself? How about if I have a Yankees fan behind me at Target Center…can I hit them with a mini-Louisville Slugger? After all, who doesn’t feel threatened by a Yankees fan?

    The GOP is so concerned about problems that do not exist:
    *Voters without ID.
    *People protecting their personal safety who are prosecuted for murder.
    *Excellent young teachers getting laid off while sleeping older teachers keep their jobs (GOP might look to their funding decisions to explain layoffs in the first place)
    *Testing teachers for basic skills when they already do this in the hiring process (Funny that based on my life experience, it might be the math majors who have a hard time passing a writing test! I also wonder how much algebra a kindergarten teacher really needs to know!)
    *Squeezing the amount of time that local governments have to decide on important land use and zoning questions.

    Thank goodness for Governor Dayton!

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/24/2012 - 11:10 am.

    Make up your minds

    Can I kill the next panhandler that hits me up for cash on Hennepin avenue or can’t I? They scare me.

  3. Submitted by Luke Ferguson on 02/24/2012 - 11:11 am.

    Solving more non-existent problems?

    Representative Cornish,

    Would you please be so kind as to provide a list of verifiable instances in Minnesota in the last 10 years where someone shot an intruder in their home, were then convicted of a crime, and that this law would have led to them not being convicted?

    A follow up, in how many of those circumstances (if you’ve managed to find any) were the victim of the shooting found to pose no threat to the home owner?



    Minnesotans Sick of Solutions to Nonexistent Problems

  4. Submitted by David Mensing on 02/24/2012 - 12:02 pm.

    Drive-by shootings

    If someone brandishes a weapon and a person is in a car, do they have the “right” to shoot the person brandishing the weapon? I can see drive-by shootings going to court with the castle defense. That’ll work!

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/24/2012 - 12:54 pm.

      Sure they do David

      Haven’t you been reading the daily headlines from the 38 states that have this law in place? It’s a genuine shooting gallery out there. Motorists are bumping each other off as fast as they can re-load.

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/24/2012 - 02:53 pm.

        There he goes again…

        Just a little reminder, Mr. Swift, about unsupported claims:

        “the 38 states that have this law in place”

        I won’t argue with you about whether that number should be 31 or 38, but that actually illustrates my point. The bill that has been passed by the Senate is NOT the same one that other states have in place because the definition of “Castle law” is very slippery. Google is your friend.

        The devil is in the details.

        To give but one example, a very dangerous conceal and carry reciprocity enabler has been slipped into the Minnesota bill. This has nothing to do with so-called Castle doctrine. This is yet another reason why many in law enforcement are less than enthusiastic about this law.

        And yet people like you go around claiming that the proposed law is just like the ones in 38 other states?

        This is simply not the case.

  5. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 02/24/2012 - 12:18 pm.

    Deadly force

    “…allowing gun owners to use deadly force virtually anywhere if they perceive a threat of bodily harm.”

    This is not acceptable. Mr Dayton, please veto this outrageous bill.

  6. Submitted by Wayne Swickley on 02/24/2012 - 01:42 pm.

    What the heck…

    We need a constitutional amendment anyway. “Anybody in Minnesota can shoot anybody, any time, for any reason, with impunity, as long as there is a perceived threat, real or imagined, involved.”

    And while we’re at it, let’s change the state song. Sing it with me now:

    Yippee yi-o ki-yay,
    Galloping all the way,
    Here comes Quickdraw McGraw….

    You know the rest.

  7. Submitted by Cecil North on 02/24/2012 - 12:45 pm.

    Eulalie Soeurs

    Mr. Cornish’s impressions of Roderick Spode are, as always, spot on.

  8. Submitted by Mark Stromseth on 02/24/2012 - 12:53 pm.

    Out of Focus

    So if Dayton were to actually sign this bill, that would mean that the sane and rational citizens can shoot the Repub legislators because we “feel threatened” by them, right? That sounds like a plan even they would approve, since they’re all for restoring the Wild, Wild West with everyone having a concealed carry gun permit. But I’m guessing they’re not so keen on that particular interpretation of the bill, should it actually become law.

    Besides, what happened to their “laser focus” on jobs? All they’ve done so far is try to gut the budget and everything in it; displayed their absolute ignorance of basic economics, and failed to do anything to create any jobs.

    Their vision must be a little fuzzy.

    • Submitted by Cecil North on 02/24/2012 - 01:24 pm.

      Give them time

      Once we have achieved full employment in the guns, ammunition and funeral homes sectors, they’ll branch out to other areas (private prisons, perhaps?).

  9. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 02/24/2012 - 01:10 pm.

    Small town wannabes

    I’m sure that small towners Gretchen Hoffman (R) from Vergas and Tony Cornish (R) from Good Thunder have an abundance of background experiences and qualified information needed in order to be pushing this ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ nonsense bill through the legislature….or could it be they are just looking for name recognition, like the other “social issue” authors? And what have you two done about the jobs situation in Minnesota?

  10. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/24/2012 - 01:18 pm.

    Good point, Coleman

    Why is this only restricted to gun owners? If I knifed a guy or hit him with a bat or drove him off the road would I be subject to different rules if I shot him?

    I’m still trying to figure out the job creation side of this. Maybe one of the Republicans here can explain that. Job creation is the number one Republican priority, right?

    • Submitted by Hal Davis on 02/24/2012 - 03:31 pm.

      Job creation

      Ambulance drivers, surgeons and nurses in emergency rooms, clerks for med insurance companies, makers of prosthetic devices, defense lawyers…

  11. Submitted by B Maginnis on 02/24/2012 - 01:34 pm.

    Castle Doctrine

    Time to allow Minnesotans to protect and defend. This ain’t Kansas anymore.

    The police come AFTER the attack, liberals.

    The Star Tribune hates guns. Just look at the photo they use to illustrate the story. Rows and rows of “those scary black guns”!

    • Submitted by Arito Moerair on 02/24/2012 - 01:46 pm.


      “This ain’t Kansas anymore.”

      Umm, it was NEVER Kansas. Yet we’re being dragged down to that level every day by a regressive GOP state legislature.

    • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/24/2012 - 02:05 pm.

      This is not the Star Tribune

      Nor are those guns scary. They’re your typical concealable hand gun. Do you think they should have used a photo of Red Rider BB guns? At least the article didn’t label them *omigosh!* SEMIAUTOMATIC WEAPONS. That’s like using the word “liberal” the way you did–giving it a connotation it doesn’t deserve while being, in essence, still true.

      We were never in Kansas.

  12. Submitted by Arito Moerair on 02/24/2012 - 01:44 pm.

    Why not an amendment?

    Why would the GOP even waste their time and opt to “work with” the governor on this? He will likely veto the legislation, and they know that. So why wouldn’t they just create yet another constitutional amendment?

    Echoing Bill Schletzer, how many jobs does this bill create?

  13. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 02/24/2012 - 01:54 pm.

    scary black guns

    You are so right, Ed……handgun availability is the crux of the weapons issue in the U.S. Do a google on the handgun-related shootings in just the past week. That should wake you up.

  14. Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 02/24/2012 - 02:00 pm.

    Self defense

    I’m ok with use of deadly force for self defense. But there are already laws allowing for that. That was the whole point of allowing conceal and carry. There’s no need to expand the castle doctrine. It only confuses the situations in which deadly force is not prosecutable.

    That being said, some of the examples in the comments are a bit ridiculous. For the same reason we don’t need an expanded castle doctrine, we don’t need to question whether you would shoot someone in a car that’s pointing a gun at you. Think first. Period. Deadly force is only appropriate (including with knives and bats) when ABSOLUTELY necessary. Even in your own home, at least in most states, you are required to inform an intruder that they will be shot unless they hit the ground, which is reasonable. It is not reasonable to shoot (or stab or beat) first and ask questions later. There are no take-backs for dead.

    • Submitted by David Mensing on 02/25/2012 - 09:11 pm.

      “Castle Doctrine”

      Under the proposed legislation the “Castle Doctrine” would be expanded to vehicles, tents, hotel rooms, etc. My point about a drive-by may have been a bit over the top, but I was saying that if a person saw someone brandishing a weapon, could they say, if the proposed legislation became law, that the felt threatened and fired at the person brandishing the weapon?

      I heard Ron Rosenbaum on the radio commenting on this proposal as a “solution looking for a problem” since no one gets indicted for protecting their home and “retreating” is nonsense.

  15. Submitted by Phil Dech on 02/24/2012 - 02:46 pm.

    If law enforcement is so against it…

    why are the Repubs so in favor of it? I’ve never understood this. They seem to be such law-and-order-respect-authority types. Are police chiefs really a bunch of liberals?

    • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 02/24/2012 - 09:55 pm.

      Yes, they are

      Police chiefs don’t want an armed citizenry because they say it makes their job tougher. Well too bad.

      • Submitted by Cecil North on 02/25/2012 - 03:09 pm.

        Yes, too bad …

        For Officer Shawn Schneider of Lake City, shot in the head responding to a domestic disturbance. Too bad for the other 121 Minnesota cops shot and killed in the line of duty. A tragedy for their wives and children. But hey, too bad!

  16. Submitted by Sue Halligan on 02/24/2012 - 02:59 pm.

    Expanded Castle Doctrine

    I’m with Bill Coleman: Thank goodness for Governor Dayton! (Just imagine if Emmer had been elected!)

  17. Submitted by Mike Downing on 02/24/2012 - 04:03 pm.

    Improved Personal Safety

    States with Conceal/Carry and The Castle Doctrine are safer and have reduced crime rates compared to states & localities with strong gun control. The facts speak very clearly whereas emotional rhetoric are just words with no meaning.

  18. Submitted by Mike Downing on 02/24/2012 - 04:07 pm.

    President Obama & Governor Dayton

    President Obama & now Governor Dayton are the best things that have ever happened to the gun industry, to the NRA and Conceal/Carry permits!

  19. Submitted by Eric Gunderson on 02/24/2012 - 07:33 pm.

    deadly force legislation

    This proposed legislation reminds me of my drill sergeant telling us on the firing line that we should think “ready, aim, fire and NOT ready, fire, aim….the defense in a criminal charge for this would be “but I thought he/she was going to……………” can you imagine what permitting this action would do on a saturday nite!!!

  20. Submitted by Dave Thul on 02/24/2012 - 11:27 pm.

    All of the naysayers

    of this bill might be taken seriously in their fear mongering but for the fact that so many of you said exactly the same things before the passage of the current ‘shall issue’ law, which has resulted in exactly zero criminal convictions for improper use of a handgun.

    The light rail line has killed over a dozen people since it opened at the same time as the handgun legislation was passed, which has not yet resulted in a death.

    Who is the fear mongerer now?

  21. Submitted by rolf westgard on 02/25/2012 - 04:06 pm.

    I feel better with that ‘equalizer’ in my hand

    Those aggressive Girl Scouts selling cookies are scary. A look at my Glock will send them packing. We’ll finally be like Texas where that Japanese exchange student was taken out when he tried to collect for charity at a Texas home. “Don’t Tread on us” patriots.

  22. Submitted by Mike May on 02/25/2012 - 10:17 pm.

    Minnesota homeowners can’t be trusted…..

    I am offended by the belief that Minnesota residents are so much more violent than those of 38 other states – whose laws don’t require their citizens to hide in their closet, call 911 and hope that the police show up before the criminal that broke into their house finds them.

    I’m remembering the antics of the “Flower Pot Gang” who wore bulletproof vests into the Legislature chambers when Concealed Carry was passed. Why? Because they were predicting a Wild West scenario if people were allowed to defend themselves. How accurate were their predictions then? Why would their predictions be accurate today? They weren’t and they won’t be.

    What this really boils down to is a disconnect between the “We should all get along” gang – who are convinced that the government is responsible to make everyone’s life happy and the “Humans are the most successful predators on the face of the earth” gang – who believe that it is the responsibility of each individual to protect him/herself in order to stop the predators.

    I’m in the latter – if my family or my home is threatened, I should be able to defend myself.

    I hope that Mark Dayton decides that it is important for the citizens of this state to be able defend themselves against the predators – but I suspect that he is incapable of understanding that the people are capable of effectively defending themselves – after all, isn’t that what his concept of government responsible for?

    • Submitted by David Mensing on 02/26/2012 - 04:25 pm.

      Common Sense

      Mr. May–I am not a lawyer, but to my knowledge and corroborated by attorneys, the belief that one must retreat or “hide in the closet” is unture or at least unenforceable. Can anyone name the last time that anyone was charged or indicted in Minnesota for defending themselves in their home? Rather than listen to politicians and the NRA, I would prefer to hear from the law enforcement and district attorneys.

      I agree that protests and predictions for conceal and carry were over the top. One piece of legislation is different from the other. If the governor vetoes this bill, I would hope that some accomodation could be reached, but if the behavior of the legislature so far is any guide, it will probably go on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.

  23. Submitted by Ann Galloway on 02/25/2012 - 11:54 pm.

    Another bill from the A.L.E.C. template

    what a shame MN has so many state Legislators who belong to A.L.E.C. and they are representing Corporations profits instead of MN public.

    i”m so glad Dayton will veto this irresponsible bill

  24. Submitted by John C. Rezmerski on 02/26/2012 - 08:59 am.

    deadly force legislation

    I could (reluctantly) support the legislation (amendment, whatever) that Cornish proposes, if and only if it were coupled to another law protecting the unarmed. Since a person who carries a gun in public is presumably willing to use it to deadly effect, if and when her or she kills someone who is unarmed and cannot be clearly shown to have posed a deadly threat (not merely the threat of a fight), the shooter should by law be automatically considered guilty of premeditated murder and prosecuted accordingly. Equipping and preparing oneself with a deadly instrument, and carrying it outside one’s home, seems clearly to premeditate any use to which it is put, whether to use it to deadly effect or to threaten to use it where there is no clear and present danger. If someone approaches you in a parking lot, screaming and shaking his fist, there is certainly reason to fear injury–but not to an extent that would justify deadly force. Cornish’s law seems to blur cases like that, and if it’s passed, we’ll need a law that provides strict consequences for anyone who cannot demonstrate the presence of a deadly threat. No “heat of passion” argument should be permitted–you prepare to kill, then kill, a person who has not posed a credible threat to your life, you should be held guilty of premeditated murder, and sentenced accordingly.

  25. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/27/2012 - 09:45 am.

    How quaint

    “..the shooter should by law be automatically considered guilty of premeditated murder and prosecuted accordingly”

    So excersizing our constitutional rights automaticly disinvests one from our gurantee to due process?

    • Submitted by John C. Rezmerski on 02/28/2012 - 04:38 pm.

      how quaint

      Not so Swift! My phrase “automatically considered guilty of” should have been more clearly stated as “automatically arrested for”. That IS what due process provides for: upon presentation of probable violation of the law, an orderly sequence of arrest and speedy trial. And the “right to bear arms” does not mean the right to shoot first and ask questions later, nor the right use a firearm for an unlawful purpose, nor to be completely free to use a firearm without regard for consequences.

  26. Submitted by Adrian Cloud on 02/28/2012 - 01:33 pm.

    Do a news search of the name Jay Lewis. An Iowa man that was the victim of a road rage incident in which the perpetrators can and his collided. After exiting the vehicle to survey the damage to his car (and not fleeing the scene of an accident…which is against the law) he was then accosted by the perpetrators. Being a holder of a permit to carry a firearm as well as the firearm, he proceeded to draw his weapon and ALSO dial 911 from his cell phone to report the incident. While on the phone to 911, he is recored warning his possible assailants to retreat, that he was armed…apparently they did not as he did, in fact shoot and wound (not kill) one of the assailants (sounds to me like a rational fear of threat).

    He was arrested and had several charges brought against him (no doubt by an over-zealous prosecutor that aspired to a higher office) and booked into jail where he spent nearly three months, during which time he was evicted from his residence, his firearms confiscated by local law enforcement, his belongings removed from his residence to be confiscated by local thiefs. he also lost his job.

    One by one, the charges against him were dropped, the last one would have qualified him for release on his own recoginzance ONLY if he had a home to go to.

    So in defending himself from attack, he is rendered financially ruined and homeless.

    I am not sure this bill goes far enough to preserve the rights of law abiding citizens…and the lies and complete misinformation layed out by the anti-Second Ammendment of the US Constitution idiots (including James Backstrom) is nothing less than sickening.

  27. Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 03/01/2012 - 08:14 am.

    what issue?

    Explain to me in plain english how this creates more jobs? And where are all the job creating bills?

Leave a Reply