Under House Bill 168, a law-abiding citizen who has not initiated the conflict would have no duty to retreat from any place where the person is lawfully present before using force to defend themselves. The proposed legislation would also clarify that a person who faces a civil lawsuit because of the allegedly improper use of defensive force may apply to a court for a determination of the use of force issue prior to trial. Should a court find that a person’s use of force is legally justified, a court would be authorized to award reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and other compensation incurred by the person in defense of any related civil lawsuit. Other changes include definitions, including what constitutes a reasonable use of defensive force.
Wyoming currently has no statutory provision excluding a mandatory duty to retreat for those who are assaulted, without fault, in a place other than the home. These bills recognize the realities of persons forced into situations where defensive force is necessary, and provide additional protection from civil liability and lawsuits arising from the use of defensive force. Victims of crime who resort to defensive force to protect themselves, their families or others shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not they should have pursued other reasonable alternatives, as determined after the fact, or face potentially ruinous civil lawsuits if the use of defensive force was consistent with legal requirements.
Again, please contact Governor Matt Mead and urge him to protect the right to self-defense of law-abiding Wyoming gun owners by signing House Bill 168 into law.