A measure dubbed the “Make My Day Better” law was shot down by the House Judiciary Committee today at the Capitol for the second year in a row. Only one Democrat broke ranks in support of the proposal in an otherwise party-line vote.
The measure, House Bill 1094, would have allowed the use of deadly force without fear of prosecution on the part of a business owner, manager, or employee under certain conditions. Current law already gives immunity to homeowners who are defending themselves against intruders under the state’s Make My Day statute.
House Judiciary Chair Claire Levy, D-Boulder, said that the measure is too simplistic and may offer businesses too much wiggle room, essentially becoming a license to kill someone unjustifiably.
‘The language of this bill is very simple. If you’re concerned that there might be the use of force, no matter how slight, you get to shoot to kill,” said Levy. “It would be a shield against prosecution.”
Yuma Republican Rep. Cory Gardner, sponsor of the measure, said his bill would act as a deterrent to would-be criminals by letting them know that business owners, like homeowners, have the right to protect themselves.
“People have the right to protect themselves and … we ought to give law-abiding citizens the tools they need to do so,” said Gardner, noting crime rates have declined since 1985, when the original Make My Day law went into effect for homeowners.
“The last thing that ought to be going through a person’s mind as they are trying to defend their life is, ‘Gee, am I going to get prosecuted for protecting my life?’ This bill says don’t worry about that as long as you are within the law,” Gardner said.
Dan Brennan, representing the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, told the committee there are too many variables, such as what would constitute unlawful entry into a business.
“Homes are not open to the public. Businesses want people to walk through their front doors,” said Brennan. “Unlawful entry may mean different things to different people.”
A representative of the Colorado District Attorneys Council also testified against the measure.
“Our concern is losing the discretion of the DA in not being able to make the determination of whether or not it is appropriate to prosecute,” the organization’s Mark Randall told committee members.
Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden, who came to speak for the County Sheriffs of Colorado, disagreed with both the police chiefs and district attorneys. For Alderden, the measure is simply a victims’ rights bill that empowers the victim.
“I’m probably one of the few people here who has looked down the wrong end of a handgun,” said Alderden. “I will tell you that in that circumstance time stops– it slows down and in those moments I shouldn’t have to stop and think about whether or not I’m going to be prosecuted.”
Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, the lone committee Democrat who voted in favor of the bill along with committee Republicans, said the proposal made sense to him.
“There are sufficient protections around the bill,” said Pace. “Everyone should have a right to defend themselves.”