Tuesday, July 7, 2009

IL SB 1013 . . . Zombie Shell Bill

This is really no big deal, but it caught my interest and got me thinking about parliamentary maneuvers when, last night at the SCRA meeting, a member asked everyone to call their representatives and ask them to vote for SB 1013, an Illinois bill that he said would lessen the risk of being sued by your attacker if you turn the tables and defend yourself with a gun. Reading from his Iphone, he quoted the bill as inserting this language:
(720 ILCS 5/7‑1) (from Ch. 38, par. 7‑1)
Sec. 7‑1. Use of force in defense of person.
(b) In no case shall any act involving the use of force justified under this Section give rise to any claim or liability brought by or on behalf of any person acting within the definition of "aggressor" set forth in Section 7‑4 of this Article, or the estate, spouse, or other family member of such a person, against the person or estate of the person using such justified force, unless the use of force involves willful or wanton misconduct.
That didn't seem right to me, because that language or something very close is already part of Illinois Compiled Statutes. This is why some of us in Illinois keep asking people not to agitate for "Castle Doctrine Laws" in Illinois--we already have substantial legal protection for the use of force in self-defense, and there's no need to narrow it down with a specific law! That made me wonder what SB1013 was really intended to do, especially when he said that it was sponsored by notorious anti-gun Senators like Dan "Goon Squad" Kotowski. Why would Dan Kotowski be trying to establish civil legal protection for people who use force in self-defense? It made me suspicious that I would find, if I compared the new text to the old, that they were actually trying to make a technical change that would remove that very legal protection, removing it if possible and neutering it if not.

When I checked the bill status myself, I found what you already know if you clicked the link above: SB 1013 is a zombie re-animated from the corpse of an earlier bill. The language that sounded so familiar is actually from the section of the bill that tells which existing statutes would be amended if it passed; that's the law as it stands today. Senate Amendment 10 completely gutted the bill and inserted new language taking it in an entirely opposite direction--now it provides for the state to seize assets gained by corrupt politicians in bribery and kickback schemes, which isn't a bad idea at all. But that leaves me with a few questions, purely for my own curiosity's sake.

1. What change did this bill originally make to the Statutes? Was it an attempt to remove the civil legal protections for people who use force in self-defense? I think that's likely, but since it was amended, the text is gone.

2. Why not just use a shell bill to do this? For those who don't spend your time on parliamentary trivia, shell bills are bills that consist of titles and placeholders-they don't actually say or do anything. They're introduced by the thousands like Cobra Commander's zombie battalions because no new bill can be introduced after the legislative deadline in Illinois, but amendments are still allowed. So today, for instance, it's too late to introduce a new bill in the Senate. But if a Senator uses an amendment to gut and remake a shell bill (or a bill like SB1013) he can get it voted on, because technically that bill was introduced before the deadline (well, that bill's number was introduced.) This isn't really important in this case . . . in fact, chances are that a danger to gun owners was removed when they made that amendment . . . but once I start wondering it's hard to stop.


ChiefJayBob said...


Can you clarify the "Castle Doctrine" you state that Illinois has? According to this article posted in the Peoria Journal-Star, the CCW instructor this reporter talked to states that IL has no such law. I would prefer you to be right. Do you have a ILCS number to reference?


ChiefJayBob said...

Ha! Disregard my last. Found it:

720 ILCS 5/7-1

Not a "Castle Doctrine," but close enough for us dummies.

Don said...

Illinois doesn't have a "Castle Law." The reason such laws were needed in most states was that most laws had statutes that specified under what circumstances a person had a "duty to retreat" before using force to defend himself. The Castle Doctrine simply states that you have no duty to retreat if you have the legal right to be where you are when the attack comes.

In Illinois, there is no such duty to retreat in the law, so we don't have a need for a law to rectify it. And we have the civil protection you see in 5/7-1, so even if the goblin wants to sue you, he or his heirs have show that he was not acting as the "aggressor" and that you acted with "willful and wanton" misconduct--so mistakes don't cut it.

The CCW instructor quoted in that article from Peoria did a pretty good job overall, but he hasn't lived in Illinois since 1982 and things have changed since his day. He got an education in the thread on the article at Illinoiscarry.org.