Castle Doctrine bill passed, allowing residents to protect themselves
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Lawmakers over this past weekend passed by majority vote the Castle Doctrine Bill. Guam now joins 27 other states that have some form of a castle doctrine.
The measure was passed by lawmakers by a vote of 10-5, as Speaker Judi Won Pat, Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz and Senators Ben Pangelinan, Dennis Rodriguez Jr, and Michael San Nicolas voted against the measure.
"This just allows Guam citizens to protect themselves. That's ultimately what it is," explained National Rifle Association instructor Darren Alvarez. He said should the bill be enacted into law, island residents will have the right to protect themselves, their homes and their businesses. Prior to passage of the measure, if someone was breaking down the door and trying to get into a home, the resident could not make the presumption that they were there to harm them.
But the castle doctrine will change that. "That's one of the biggest things is the assumption is that if someone is breaking into your house you can assume that they are there to do you harm," Alvarez continued. "The second thing is if someone has a self-defense shoot, up until the castle law was passed, it's standard operating procedure for police to arrest everybody."
The castle doctrine would not require an immediate arrest. "The third thing is if you have a self-defense shoot and you harm and kill somebody, in the States and the way it was in Guam you could get sued for that. You were liable for that and you could get sued because you hurt that person and their family could sue you because they could no longer commit crime and bring money home and you could get sued and you would lose," he added.
With the bill, the Attorney General's Office and law enforcement would make the determination if a home owner was truly in fear for their life and if they had no other choice but to shoot the intruder.
Alvarez says he doesn't believe that passage of the measure will result in an increase in gun sales on the island, but he does believe it sends a strong message to criminals. He told KUAM News, "I do think this will definitely help to deter crime for criminals to understand the fact that if they break into a house, the preponderance of guilt is on them now and if someone who lives there is defending themselves, the fault will automatically go to the criminal when they look at it. That's certainly going to play in their mind does this house have someone with a gun."
The measure has been forwarded to the governor for his review.