Today, Governor Matt Mead stated that he allowed important self-defense legislation, House Bill 168, to become law at midnight last night without his signature.
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.
Thank you to NRA members and Second Amendment supporters who continuously contacted their lawmakers in support of this important self-defense legislation. Also, special thanks to the sponsors, Representative Tim Salazar and Senator Anthony Bouchard, who helped to usher this measure through the legislative process.