Text: H.R.648 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Bill Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (02/05/2003)

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[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 648 Introduced in House (IH)]

  1st Session
                                H. R. 648

   To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use 
 firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the 
                       enforcement of such right.



                            February 5, 2003

 Mr. Wilson of South Carolina introduced the following bill; which was 
               referred to the Committee on the Judiciary


                                 A BILL

   To protect the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use 
 firearms in defense of self, family, or home, and to provide for the 
                       enforcement of such right.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the ``Citizens' Self-Defense Act of 


    The Congress finds the following:
            (1) Police cannot protect, and are not legally liable for 
        failing to protect, individual citizens, as evidenced by the 
                    (A) The courts have consistently ruled that the 
                police do not have an obligation to protect 
                individuals, only the public in general. For example, 
                in Warren v. District of Columbia Metropolitan Police 
                Department, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. App. 1981), the court 
                stated: ``[C]ourts have without exception concluded 
                that when a municipality or other governmental entity 
                undertakes to furnish police services, it assumes a 
                duty only to the public at large and not to individual 
                members of the community.''.
                    (B) Former Florida Attorney General Jim Smith told 
                Florida legislators that police responded to only 
                200,000 of 700,000 calls for help to Dade County 
                    (C) The United States Department of Justice found 
                that, in 1989, there were 168,881 crimes of violence 
                for which police had not responded within 1 hour.
            (2) Citizens frequently must use firearms to defend 
        themselves, as evidenced by the following:
                    (A) Every year, more than 2,400,000 people in the 
                United States use a gun to defend themselves against 
                criminals--or more than 6,500 people a day. This means 
                that, each year, firearms are used 60 times more often 
                to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take 
                    (B) Of the 2,400,000 self-defense cases, more than 
                192,000 are by women defending themselves against 
                sexual abuse.
                    (C) Of the 2,400,000 times citizens use their guns 
                to defend themselves every year, 92 percent merely 
                brandish their gun or fire a warning shot to scare off 
                their attackers. Less than 8 percent of the time, does 
                a citizen kill or wound his or her attacker.
            (3) Law-abiding citizens, seeking only to provide for their 
        families' defense, are routinely prosecuted for brandishing or 
        using a firearm in self- 
        defense. For example:
                    (A) In 1986, Don Bennett of Oak Park, Illinois, was 
                shot at by 2 men who had just stolen $1,200 in cash and 
                jewelry from his suburban Chicago service station. The 
                police arrested Bennett for violating Oak Park's 
                handgun ban. The police never caught the actual 
                    (B) Ronald Biggs, a resident of Goldsboro, North 
                Carolina, was arrested for shooting an intruder in 
                1990. Four men broke into Biggs' residence one night, 
                ransacked the home and then assaulted him with a 
                baseball bat. When Biggs attempted to escape through 
                the back door, the group chased him and Biggs turned 
                and shot one of the assailants in the stomach. Biggs 
                was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly 
                weapon--a felony. His assailants were charged with 
                    (C) Don Campbell of Port Huron, Michigan, was 
                arrested, jailed, and criminally charged after he shot 
                a criminal assailant in 1991. The thief had broken into 
                Campbell's store and attacked him. The prosecutor plea-
                bargained with the assailant and planned to use him to 
                testify against Campbell for felonious use of a 
                firearm. Only after intense community pressure did the 
                prosecutor finally drop the charges.
            (4) The courts have granted immunity from prosecution to 
        police officers who use firearms in the line of duty. 
        Similarly, law-abiding citizens who use firearms to protect 
        themselves, their families, and their homes against violent 
        felons should not be subject to lawsuits by the violent felons 
        who sought to victimize them.


    (a) Reaffirmation of Right.--A person not prohibited from receiving 
a firearm by Section 922(g) of title 18, United States Code, shall have 
the right to obtain firearms for security, and to use firearms--
            (1) in defense of self or family against a reasonably 
        perceived threat of imminent and unlawful infliction of serious 
        bodily injury;
            (2) in defense of self or family in the course of the 
        commission by another person of a violent felony against the 
        person or a member of the person's family; and
            (3) in defense of the person's home in the course of the 
        commission of a felony by another person.
    (b) Firearm Defined.--As used in subsection (a), the term 
``firearm'' means--
            (1) a shotgun (as defined in section 921(a)(5) of title 18, 
        United States Code);
            (2) a rifle (as defined in section 921(a)(7) of title 18, 
        United States Code); or
            (3) a handgun (as defined in section 10 of Public Law 99-
    (c) Enforcement of Right.--
            (1) In general.--A person whose right under subsection (a) 
        is violated in any manner may bring an action in any United 
        States district court against the United States, any State, or 
        any person for damages, injunctive relief, and such other 
        relief as the court deems appropriate.
            (2) Authority to award a reasonable attorney's fee.--In an 
        action brought under paragraph (1), the court, in its 
        discretion, may allow the prevailing plaintiff a reasonable 
        attorney's fee as part of the costs.
            (3) Statute of limitations.--An action may not be brought 
        under paragraph (1) after the 5-year period that begins with 
        the date the violation described in paragraph (1) is