It's not nice to break into someone else's home to steal things, destroy the property, and/or cause fear, injury, or even death to the residents.

Some bad boys – and occasionally girls – just don't understand this. As a result, many innocent lives are often jeopardized by random acts of illegal entry and unprovoked violence.

Until now, fighting back could put the resident in more trouble than the perpetrator.

State lawmakers have finally given Pennsylvania residents some protection. They have passed the "Castle Bill," which allows the resident to use force if necessary to defend his or her personal property. That force can be a registered gun.

It's about time such legislation was passed.

Anyone who has spent any time in magistrate court knows the frustration residents face when a burglary occurs.

Police do their job and charge the perpetrators appropriately when they manage to catch burglars and the like. Defense lawyers always manage to do plea bargaining, resulting in lesser charges. Or, the lawyers will have the charges dropped on technicalities, or by confusing the already rattled property owner into making a mistake so that the credibility of the resident is disputed.

We're not implying anyone should be quick with a trigger. But if it comes to defending your home and your family, you should be allowed some practical rights.

In the past, the responsibility was put on the homeowner to prove that a serious effort was made to escape the perpetrators and that an abundance of force was not utilized against them.

Often burglars have weapons. Sometimes they are affected by drugs or alcohol.

But often unless the resident acts quickly, their own lives are put in serious jeopardy by burglaries and home invasions.

Sometimes a strong defense is the best deterrent against aggression, and the Castle Bill gives the property owner a little bit better security than they previously had.

The Castle Bill is a good thing.

Will there be abuses? Of course. There are always unscrupulous individuals who take advantage of good things.

But the biggest abuse was always to the victims of burglaries and home invasions.

By Ron Gower

rgower@tnonline.com [1]