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Police Have Safety Concerns Over New Gun Law

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- "It appears to take away some of the necessary scrutiny legally that we do when we investigate deadly force incidents. It seems to give a pretty subjective view and opportunity for people to make some glaring errors in their judgment and not be held accountable for that," said Sergeant Paul Parizek, Public Information Officer for the Des Moines Police Department. Sgt. Parizek sees some deficiencies in the new gun law that he believes could cause some unnecessary violence or death to occur.

The law, which expands Stand Your Ground, takes away the duty to retreat. "The problem is if you have a duty to retreat, anything you do to repel that force may be looked at later by somebody who wasn`t there, didn`t have the adrenaline rushing through their body, wasn`t in the dark in a strange place and they may sit in an office somewhere or a courtroom and say well, we think that you could have safely gotten away without endangering yourself," said Richard Rogers, Iowa Firearms Coalition Board Member and Lobbyist.

Rogers doesn't want gun owners to be second guessed for using deadly force and likes the kind of protection the new law provides. "There`s also an aspect that says you can be wrong in the estimation of the danger, but you could still be justified," explained Rogers. But that's exactly what has some in law enforcement concerned.

"There`s scenarios where we could have two people lawfully carrying firearms in a public place, spot each other, not know what each other`s intentions are and one of them shoot the other, because he`s scared. The way stand your ground is written, if one person is scared, it could be justified," said Sgt. Parizek.

But Rogers says he doesn't want gun owners to be Monday morning quarterbacked. "The idea there is basically, what if somebody comes up to you at night, a couple of guys come up to you at night and they’ve got a gun and it turns out to be a fake gun, a BB gun or a pellet gun, but it looks exactly like a real gun. Again it’s night, the adrenaline’s rushing...and you think it’s a real gun and you act accordingly. It may be proved later that you were wrong, they didn’t have a functioning gun, it was either broken or unloaded or it wasn’t a real gun, but if you acted reasonably, if you reasonably believed that you were in danger and that you need(ed) to use deadly force and you acted reasonably in that belief, then it’s still justified," said Rogers.

But what`s reasonable to one person may not be reasonable to another. "It`s hard to evaluate emotion as being reasonable or unreasonable or perception as being reasonable or unreasonable," said Sgt. Parizek.

Meanwhile, Tom Hudson, The General Manager of Crossroads Shooting Sports in Johnston, believes some of the fears and concerns surrounding the new law may be unfounded. "It`s kind of like medical marijuana. That didn`t necessarily make everybody a pothead all of a sudden, you know, because all of a sudden you can just go get it kind of thing, so I think we`re not gonna quite see the rush of everyone wanting to just run out and have a gun," said Hudson.

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