Motorists who fear that their lives are in danger will be able to shoot and kill carjackers under a Louisiana law that takes effect Friday.
All states have some sort of law that allows self-defense, but the Louisiana measure appears to be the first to focus specifically on carjacking, legislators said.
The license to kill, passed by the Legislature in June, is drawing fire from critics.
“Essentially, it’s just a law that allows you to kill car thieves,” said Bert Garraway of the public defender office in Baton Rouge. “As is usually the case, the Legislature overreacted.”
But proponents say the law is needed.
“We had three cases where victims of violent incidents were charged initially for defending themselves,” said Sandy Krasnoff, director of the advocacy group Victims and Citizens Against Crime.
“Victims should not be hassled by the legal system--if they manage to live through it.”
A young advertising executive was raped and killed in a carjacking in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras this year. Businesses in the French Quarter put signs in their windows that read, “Crime and noise are killing the Quarter.”
Last December, Erika Schwarz, the 1997 Miss Louisiana and first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant, was the victim of a carjacking. She was not hurt.
The new law permits motorists to use deadly force.
It doesn’t specify what means they may use. But because of the popularity of guns in Louisiana, the measure became known as the “shoot the carjacker” law.
For as many years as anyone can remember, Louisiana residents have been empowered to keep guns in their homes or cars.
State Rep. Peppi Bruneau, the New Orleans Republican who drafted the bill, noted that the burden is on the carjack victim to prove that he or she had been threatened with bodily harm.
Several years ago a law dubbed “shoot the burglar” was passed. That allows a resident to use deadly force if someone tries to break into the house.
Last year, the Legislature approved a measure allowing residents with no criminal record to apply for permits to carry concealed weapons.