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Legislators Debate Use Of ‘Deadly Force’ To Protect Schools

State legislators are exploring whether schools should be covered under a policy that allows people to use deadly force in certain situations.

school hallway

Photo: Mark Sardella (flickr)

Schools are already covered by some state laws that help protect them from outside threats such as those that allow for self-defense.

State lawmakers are exploring whether Hoosier schools should be covered by the state’s Castle Doctrine – the law allowing people to use deadly force if their home is invaded.

Indiana’s Castle Doctrine says a person is allowed to use force, including deadly force, to protect themselves and their property if they believe they are in danger.

State Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, says he is exploring extending that policy to the school environment. He got the idea from gun rights attorney Guy Relford, who testified Tuesday before a legislative panel studying school safety.

Relford acknowledges that the state’s existing self-defense statute allows people to use reasonable force to protect against serious bodily injury.

“But I think that it’s both symbolic and real and practical to recognize our schools as being a place that has the same kind of sanctity and ought to be subject to the same kinds of protections that we afford to our homes in Indiana,” Relford says.

State Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, who serves on the school safety committee, says the state already provides plenty of legal protections for people defending a school and its students.

“I don’t want the teacher thinking this an issue because it’s not an issue,” he says. “They’re going to act instinctually. The teacher, the school resource officer, the parent visiting the school – they’re all going to act to protect the children.”

Mahan says he won’t necessarily offer legislation on the subject when the session convenes in January but will explore the idea with fellow lawmakers and school safety experts.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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