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Public Express Concerns Over Illegal-Entry Ruling

The bulk of public testimony the committee heard decried the Barnes decision, saying the Court had taken away their constitutional right to protect one’s home.

Statehouse

Photo: Dan Goldblatt (WFIU News)

Indiana Senate Chambers

Legislators looking to address a controversial Indiana Supreme Court decision took testimony from the public Wednesday. Some say the ruling in Barnes v. State of Indiana prohibits people from protecting their homes against illegal entry by the police.

The bulk of public testimony the committee heard decried the Barnes decision, saying the Court had taken away a basic constitutional right to protect one’s home. A spokesperson for the Fraternal Order of Police was the only voice defending the ruling, calling it “just and proper.”

Hammond Representative Linda Lawson, a former police officer, said most of those testifying were alarmists.

“Officers don’t want to kick in your door and visit you with guns drawn and two o’clock in the morning,” Lawson said.

Expanding the Castle Doctrine to explicitly include law enforcement is seen as one way for the legislature to address the issue.  The Castle Doctrine authorizes citizens to use deadly force in defense of their home, but Anderson Senator Tim Lanane says that remedy might go too far:

“It’s one thing for us to authorize you to get in a gun battle with a prowler in the middle of the night,” Lalane said. “It’s another thing to sort of implicitly authorize gun battles with the police.”

Lawmakers say there will definitely be legislation in the upcoming session dealing with the Barnes decision.

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