By Andrew Pereira
You use force against a burglar entering your home only to find
out months later that you’re the target of a civil lawsuit
by the very criminal you stopped. It’s not a joke or a
bad dream – it’s happening all across the country
as criminals try to cash in on homeowners who defend their life
and property with firearms or their bare hands.
State Senator Mike Gabbard, a republican who represents
the communities of Waikele, Makakilo and Ko 'Olina says it’s
time for Hawaii citizens to feel empowered when facing down
Gabbard sponsored a bill which limits civil liability
when a home or business owner uses physical force against a
person who is convicted of committing certain crimes.
"Just imagine a person out there trying to protect
his family and his home and then he tries to stop the perpetrator
and then all of a sudden a while later he gets sued civilly,”
said Gabbard. “It just doesn't make any sense.”
Gabbard’s bill (SB 1617) was the focus of public
testimony Monday before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee.
Members of the Hawaii Rifle Association said they supported
the measure but believe there should be restraint when confronting
“We don't think it's morally responsible to use lethal
force on somebody who’s just stealing your stuff,”
said Dr. Max Cooper, the Director & Legislative Affairs
Co-Chairman of the HRA. “Some guy could walk out with
my personal safe…and I don't think I want to shoot him,”
Cooper told members of the committee.
In its current form the bill would take away a person’s
right to sue if they are injured while committing a Class A
or Class B felony, which would cover everything from murder
East Honolulu resident Toshiaki Shimauchi supports giving homeowners
added protection in self-defense cases. The retiree is aware
of the fact that he lives in a community that has become an
attractive target for thieves. According to the Honolulu Police
Department East Honolulu reported 1,028 burglaries in 2005,
the most of any of HPD’s eight districts.
“Whoever comes in without permission…I beat the
hell out of him,” says Shimauchi. “That's wrong,
that's his fault! He's asking for trouble in the first place.”
After public testimony Senate Bill 1617 passed the Senate Judiciary
and Labor Committee by a vote of five to zero. Committee Chairman,
State Senator Clayton Hee (Kahuku-Ka'a'awa-Kane'ohe) indicated
he would add an amendment to the measure in order to protect
other people, not just homeowners from being the targets of
lawsuits filed by criminals.
Senate Bill 1617