The headline sounds sensational. And many news sources are milking it for all its worth. A recent change in law in Indiana allows citizens to resist anyone who forcibly enters their house if there is a reasonable suspicion that they intend harm to the occupants. That includes lethal force if that is all that will do the job:
The Castle Doctrine law says that if someone has entered or is attempting to enter your home without your consent, you’re legally permitted to use a reasonable amount of force to expel the intruder from your residence. If you reasonably believe your life or members of your family are in danger, you can use lethal force. The revision to Indiana’s law simply states that public servants aren’t exempt from such treatment.
When stated in that way, it doesn’t sound quite as radical as many are being led to believe. The recent change of law in Indiana was actually a correction of a previous ruling that had basically given police completely free reign to enter into houses and do what they wanted, while giving citizens absolutely no recourse to resist uniformed intruders—even if the police were engaging in harmful and/or unlawful activities.
In the 2011 case Barnes vs. State, The Indiana Supreme Court ruled that “there is no right to reasonably resist unlawful entry by police officers.” Which is absurd. That means that, no matter what a police officer was doing, citizens could not exercise reasonable measures to protect their homes. That amounts to forcing citizens to allow militarized police unrestricted quarter in their homes. I seem to remember a Revolution that was fought over something along those lines.
Of course, advocates for law enforcement (unions and the like) claim that this law will result in police blue blood running in the streets. I doubt it. The fact is that law-abiding citizens (the ones this law is intended to protect) are far less likely to open fire on police than the police are to violate constitutional rights. Perhaps this will balance things out a bit.
This amendment will probably do nothing more than force police officers to be more careful not to mistakenly harass or harm innocent citizens. And that’s a good thing, as far as I can tell.