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PA Law-Enforcement Officials Update Citizens On Self-Defense Rights





Picture from LVC file.

From the Lehigh Valley Project 9/12 Tea Party–Second Amendment Committee

If someone breaks into your home, you can fatally shoot the intruder under the state’s “castle doctrine,” according to law enforcement officials who spoke to hundreds of citizens at the Luzerne Borough fire hall during a recent seminar on the laws and regulations pertaining to guns and the use of force in Pennsylvania, according to a report on

If someone attacks you on the street with a lethal weapon, you can use deadly force in most cases under the law’s newer “stand your ground” provision. Open carry is legal in Pennsylvania, but private businesses can ban the practice if they choose, according to Luzerne County’s sheriff and two top prosecutors.

“Your home is your castle, and within your home, you have certain protections. One of them is the right to use deadly force,” District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said, according to the article. The “castle” law includes attached porches and decks, along with temporary lodgings like a camper, hotel rooms or even a yacht. But a detached garage wouldn’t count, they said.

Prior to 2011, Pennsylvanians had a duty to first attempt to retreat if attacked in public, but Gov. Tom Corbett signed the “stand your ground” provision that allows people to use deadly force if confronted by a person with a lethal weapon, First Assistant District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said.

He stressed, though, that you need to be in danger and the attacker must have a deadly weapon.

“If it’s a giant orange Nerf sword, you will have a hard time explaining that to the police,” he said, notes the article.

Shooters who are the initial aggressor are not covered. Neither are those who knew or should have known their target was a police officer, he said. The prosecutors said people are often confused about whether they need a license to carry a concealed weapon.

Sanguedolce said someone without a permit recently told him he places his gun on a seat when he’s in his car. But that doesn’t make it legal, he noted. “If you get in a car, it’s concealed. Period,” he said.

Sheriff Brian Shumsky said those who have concealed carry permits must show the permit to law enforcement when asked. And even if you have a permit, you are not allowed to have a gun on federal property and in courthouses. Private property owners can make their own rules if guns are allowed, he said.

Shumsky told the crowd they could get a permit through his office at the county’s courthouse, then listed some of the things that could forbid someone from getting a license, like having a felony conviction.

He then projected photos of a famous rap musician and also a celebrity homemaker who ran afoul of the law.

“Snoop Dog could get a license. Martha Stewart cannot,” Shumsky said, according to the article.


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