Rumor Control: The Truth About Indiana SB 1

Posted on June 18, 2012

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You may have recently read some so-called "news" reports that there is a new law in Indiana that allows homeowners to legally shoot police officers if they believe the officers are unlawfully on their property.  If you think this sounds too crazy to be true, rest assured, you’re right!  NRA-ILA’s Rumor Control has the real story.

In 2011, the Indiana Supreme Court issued a decision which created a controversial exception to well-established and fundamental laws of self-defense.  Specifically, the court ruled that a citizen is never justified in using defensive force to prevent an unlawful entry into a home by a law enforcement officer.

Predictably, the Court’s ruling prompted widespread outrage across Indiana, and in 2012, the Indiana legislature made dealing with ill-effects of the Court’s ruling a top priority. 

NRA was sent various draft bills to review, and we suggested the legislature simply reassert prior law, which had obviously worked well and without controversy for both law enforcement officers and the good people of Indiana.  The end result was Senate Bill 1, which passed overwhelmingly in the Indiana Senate (45-5) and the House (74-24) and was signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels.

Legally speaking, the intent and effects of this law are simple and unremarkable.  SB 1 merely reinstates a body of common law that has existed for hundreds of years, aspects of which were actually codified by the Indiana legislature in 2006 when it passed Castle Doctrine legislation.

SB 1 does not create any new authority for use of force against anyone, including and especially law enforcement officers. 

In fact, SB 1 was endorsed by Indiana’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Greg Zoeller, as well as the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

During a hearing on SB 1, an attorney representing the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police put it best when he plainly stated that the bill actually provides more legal protection for law enforcement officers than was present in Indiana’s 2006 Castle Doctrine bill.  And in fact, it does, by clarifying that deadly force is never authorized merely to resist an unlawful trespass by a law enforcement officer.

Most importantly, however, SB 1 does not change the fact that anyone who uses force against a law enforcement officer who is lawfully engaged in his or her duties can expect that force will be met with force and that he or she will end up in prison or much worse.  In such an instance, that person will receive no sympathy from the NRA or the law-abiding citizens of Indiana.

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Further Reading

  • No, it is not open season on Indiana police officers

    From The News-Sentinel Changes to Castle Doctrine just give us back self-defense. Numerous news outlets are perpetuating grossly irresponsible mischaracterizations of Indiana’s new self-defense law, which results from amendments to the state’s Castle Doctrine law approved by the General Assembly last session. “Indiana law that let’s citizens shoot at police” said the San Francisco Chronicle headline. And there was this from Bloomberg News: “NRA-backed law spells out when Indianans may open fire on police.” It’s open season on cops! Run for your lives, men in blue! 
    FULL STORY