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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

When deadly force is justified

The Indiana law that justifies use of deadly force for people defending themselves, their home or others in danger is seldom used, but this week's case involving a Northwestside family brings it to the spotlight.

Sunday, Robert McNally put a chokehold on a naked intruder. The man died, and McNally faces no charges.

Law enforcement officials said McNally's actions were merited by the law, which does not require people to back away before defending themselves or someone else from serious bodily injury or a forcible felony.

Indiana is like 22 other states, mostly in the Midwest and South, that since 2005 have strengthened deadly force laws to ensure that crime victims could not be prosecuted for rightfully defending their family or home.

"The underlying premise is that victims of crime can have an opportunity to defend themselves if they choose to do so," said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, which has been a supporter of the push for stronger laws.

But other advocates and state lawmakers say the expansion of such laws could promote violence as a means of retaliation and point to examples of the laws' abuse in other states. [Mark Godsey]

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