Protecting Our Homes From Armed Officials
The Resistance Rises: Restoring the ‘Castle Doctrine’
by William Norman Grigg
As the lower house of the Indiana State Legislature approved Senate Bill 1 on March 1, Representative Linda Lawson lamented that if it were passed the measure would signal that it’s “open season on law enforcement.”
“You have men and women in your community who are willing to die for you, willing to die for your family,” insisted Lawson, who – as a former police officer herself – spoke on behalf of 15,000 members of the police union. The only suitable way to display proper gratitude to the heroic paladins of public order, according to Lawson, is to protect their purported authority to invade your home and kill you with impunity – a privilege that would be undermined by SB 1.
The text of SB 1 states that its legislative purpose “is to protect citizens from unlawful entry into their homes by law enforcement officers or persons pretending to be law enforcement officers. Both citizens and law enforcement officers benefit from clear guidance about the parameters of lawful home entry, which will reduce the potential for violence and respect the privacy and property of citizens.”
To that end, the bill recognizes that an individual “may use force … to prevent or terminate a law enforcement officer’s unlawful entry.”
Although Lawson’s hunting metaphor was probably used because it was a convenient cliché, it contains a deeper significance that should not be ignored: Like the rest of the State’s exalted brotherhood of coercion, she assumes that the privacy of the individual’s home falls within the police officer’s natural habitat.
SB1 is not an innovation; it simply restores an explicit understanding of Indiana’s “castle doctrine,” which was subverted last year in the Indiana State Supreme Court’s Barnes v. State ruling. As a wire service report observed at the time, that ruling effectively nullified the core protections contained in the Fourth Amendment and the equivalent provision in the Indiana constitution, as well as protections and immunities recognized by “common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215.” The 3–2 decision last May 12 held that Indiana residents have no right to obstruct unlawful police incursions into their homes.