Michigan Gov. Granholm Signs Legislation to Strengthen Self-Defense Rights

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed legislation Thursday that supporters say is aimed at strengthening and clarifying self-defense rights in Michigan.

People now will be allowed to use deadly force, with no duty to retreat, if they reasonably think they face imminent death, great bodily harm or sexual assault. They can use deadly force on their property or anywhere they have a legal right to be.

The legislation also protects people from civil lawsuits if they have used force in self-defense.

"Law-abiding citizens will have the right to defend themselves against brutal violence without having to worry about being treated like a criminal," state Sen. Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt, said in a statement.

Some Democratic lawmakers have said the legislation is not only dangerous but also unnecessary because prosecutors already don't charge people who have justifiably used deadly force to protect themselves. They predicted it could spark a shoot-first, ask-questions-later mentality that ends with innocent people getting shot.

But supporters said the law is needed to protect people from getting sued and partly because Michigan law previously required people to first retreat, putting them at a disadvantage.

The law also creates a "rebuttable presumption" -- a legal advantage that assumes, unless there's strong proof to the contrary, that people honestly and reasonably believe they face death, rape or great bodily harm when someone breaks into their home.

The presumption won't apply in domestic violence situations, disputes involving the police and if people using the force are breaking the law.