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Castle doctrine law proposed in unicameral; it allows use of deadly force if attacked in a vehicle

Posted at 6:30 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 19:52:27-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — A Nebraska state senator is looking to expand the state’s gun laws by extending the castle doctrine to include vehicles.

LB 300 sponsor, Senator Julie Slama would give Nebraskans the right to defend themselves if they feel threatened in their vehicle. Current law says citizens first have a duty to retreat.

“Right now there is a lot of gray area, this trims back on that so it’s far more clear when Nebraskans can use the second amendment to defend themselves and their property,” said Slama.

Slama said her bill clarifies some language on defending oneself at home, but also makes it clear that Nebraskans can use a firearm in their own vehicle if they reasonably and in good faith believe they need to use deadly force.

Current law states that first, there is a duty to retreat if threatened while in a vehicle.

“If you’re in a motor vehicle, especially in a car-jacking situation, you have a limited number of options, places to retreat to, so it’s really not a realistic expectation that creates a lot of confusion when we get into the courts,” said Slama.

But gun control advocate Danielle Savington said we should keep the law as written; that anybody in this unfortunate situation should first try to retreat.

“If I'm unable to use my car to flee then my duty to retreat has been met. I cannot retreat, I cannot exit my vehicle and run so I already have an ability to protect myself. That’s self-defense,” said Savington.

Savington believes the bill is a dangerous solution to a problem that doesn’t exist and thinks it’s actually a ‘stand your ground’ bill.

“Well, I think it’s disingenuous to call it a castle doctrine because castles don’t drive down Dodge Street. This is a stand your ground bill,” said Savington.

Slama said it merely expands the narrow definition of the state’s castle doctrine

“I would hope that if they have concerns towards that in that they actually read the bill, because it very clearly is not a 'stand your ground' bill,” says Slama.

State senators that 3 News Now spoke with Thursday had mixed reactions.

“I believe everybody has a right to protect themselves when they are in danger, just like our constitution says, so I think it’s just a way for people to, in these times, to protect themselves as they see fit,” said Sen. Ben Hansen, who’s a co-sponsor of the bill.

“It’s another law, and another thing that has disproportionally members of my community and that’s something I could never advocate for,” said Sen. Terrell McKinney, who represents North Omaha.

Whether it’s called a castle doctrine or ‘stand your ground’ bill may not matter to Gov. Pete Ricketts. He told 3 News Now in 2018 that he’s in favor of a 'stand your ground' bill in Nebraska.