A bill headed to the floor of the state Assembly would allow a person who kills or injures someone who breaks into their home, business or car, to claim self-defense.

The bill strengthens what is known as the Castle doctrine and it has strong backing from the National Rifle Association and state law enforcement agencies. Before it was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee this week there was some debate about the definition of someone’s castle or dwelling, as the bill defines it. Democratic state Rep. Tony Staskunas wanted to know what the boundaries of a dwelling are when someone claims they’re defending it, “Does that extend to the municipal sidewalk in from of my house? I think the description of dwelling would include my front lawn because that’s part of my lot but what about the municipal sidewalk?”

The answer is that it depends on how the courts end up interpreting the word dwelling when and if someone is charged with killing a burglar on their front sidewalk. Democratic Rep. Gary Hebl of Sun Prairie predicts there will be very few such cases and called the bill a solution in search of a problem, “There really has been no prosecution of these cases in Wisconsin. D.A.’s have been very, very reticent to go after someone who protects themselves in their home, so this really just a feel good bill.”

Source: Gilman Halsted for Wisconsin Public Radio.

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