Irish gun owners can now shoot intruders
New bill is welcomed by police, rural groups
By JAMES O'BRIEN, IrishCentral.com Staff Writer
Published Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 5:51 AMUpdated Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 10:26 AM
Read more: Dermot Ahern, Europe, Ireland
Irish homeowners can now legally use guns to defend themselves
Irish homeowners can now legally use guns to defend themselves if their homes are attacked under new legislation.
The new home defense bill has moved the balance of rights back to the house owner if his home is broken into "where it should always have been", say top Irish police.
The police association of superintendents and inspectors, the AGSI, stated that “the current situation, which legally demands a house owner retreat from an intruder, was intolerable".
The new bill was published by Justice Minister Dermot Ahern yesterday. Under the bill homeowners will be allowed to use "reasonable" force against intruders to defend themselves, others or their property. This includes lethal force, depending on the circumstances.
Justice Minister Dermot Ahern stated that house owners could use guns in self-defense, especially if the intruders were armed but said it would ultimately be a matter for the courts to resolve.
The bill also clarifies that a house owner will not be required to retreat from an intruder. and that intruders injured as a result of reasonable force won’t be able to sue the house owner.
"The bill is welcomed because it aims to clarify the entitlements of a homeowner when faced with the situation where an uninvited intruder has entered the home," AGSI vice-president Dan Hanley told the Irish Examiner.
"The bill aims to shift the balance of rights back to the homeowner where it should always have been. It is intolerable a homeowner should be compelled to retreat in front of an intruder who has entered the home and who may have malign intentions towards the homeowner, the family or the home owner’s property."
Hanley added: "It is ridiculous to suggest the bill, which attempts to redress a serious legal imbalance, would provide a license to kill or a ‘have-a-go’ charter for homeowners, the vast majority of whom will continue to act with good sense and in a peaceful way."
Minister Ahern also dismissed the suggestion the bill was a "license to kill". He stated it merely allowed for lethal force provided it was justifiable.
Rural Link, the national network of community groups in rural Ireland welcomed the bill, saying it was "sensible legislation giving much needed clarity to homeowners on their rights when confronted by intruders".
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties however, stated it would inspect the bill to establish that it was "human-rights compliant".
The need for new legislation became evident after an intruder, John Ward, was shot dead while on the land and dwelling area of Mayo farmer, Pádraig Nally.
Nally was convicted of manslaughter, but his conviction was later overturned after a public outcry.
Burglaries in Ireland increased from 23,600 in 2007 to 26,800 in 2009. Violent burglaries rose from 255 to 363 in the same period.
Police officer blasts innocent man in groin with 50,000 volt Taser 'by accident'
By Luke Salkeld
Last updated at 8:42 PM on 20th July 2010
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Near miss: Peter Cox was outside his partner's home when a police officer accidentally shot him in the groin and ankle with a 50,000 volt Taser
A man was shot in the groin with a 50,000 volt Taser gun by police who wrongly believed he had been driving without insurance.
Peter Cox was given the electric shock after he climbed out of his BMW to talk to officers who had been following him.
He had a brief conversation with them but suddenly collapsed to the ground in agony when one of the policemen discharged the weapon.
Yesterday Mr Cox, 49, said he was considering legal action against the force after it said the gun had been fired accidentally. In addition, it later emerged Mr Cox's car was insured.
Officers had been tailing the motorist as he drove through Bridgwater, Somerset.
When he stopped at the home of his partner Donna Allen, 47, where he was going to do some gardening, he asked the police what they wanted.
He said: 'I asked them to park on the other side of the road because we were working on the front garden.
'The officer didn't say anything, but he got out of the car and pulled out a Taser and pointed it at me.
'I didn't know this at the time so I just went on with what I was doing and got a bag of stone for the garden out of the boot. Then he shot me.'
Mr Cox denied acting aggressively. He said the Taser missed his genitals by three inches.
He continued: 'I was really shocked and I didn't know what was going on. I got one in my groin and one in my ankle.
Snapped: Donna Allen, who was with Cox at the time, took this photo of the three police officers who spoke with the pair
Enlarge Stand-off: A policeman armed with the new Taser during the confrontation with Raoul Moat
'It really hurt. It just stunned me completely and felt like someone was stabbing me with a fork all over my body.'
He added: 'Police should not be armed with Tasers if they cannot use them properly.
'It was incredibly painful. It totally paralysed me.'
Paramedics treated Mr Cox, who suffers from debilitating Guillain Barre syndrome - an autoimmune disorder which can cause paralysis - on the front lawn of the home.
A spokesman for Avon and Somerset police confirmed officers had wanted to speak to Mr Cox as they suspected the BMW 3 Series he was driving was not insured.
The force later issued a statement, saying: 'The Taser is a hand-held device which discharges an electrical current to temporarily incapacitate a person.
'Its effects are short-lived but are designed to give officers control of the offender and the situation.'
The statement continued: 'On Tuesday morning officers stopped a man in Bridgwater suspected to be driving a vehicle without insurance.
'The man appeared to become aggressive and the officer removed his Taser in accordance with protocol.
'On lowering the Taser it was accidentally discharged. Police are now looking into this.'
The incident is the latest episode to raise questions over the use of Tasers by police.
It has been suggested that Raoul Moat shot himself in the head during negotiations with police because of an involuntary action caused by being shot with the weapon.
Since being introduced in April 2004, Tasers have been used in more than 5,400 incidents in England and Wales.
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