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CHEYENNE - Declaring that Wyoming residents have a right to defend their homes, Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed a bill Thursday that spells out in statute that citizens may use deadly force on intruders.

Freudenthal said he supported a last-minute change to House Bill 137 that narrowed the scope of the bill to only cover intrusions inside the home.

"I was troubled as it came out of the House because it went outside the castle," said Freudenthal, referring to the bill's common title, the "castle doctrine," which is said to have originated from a concept in English common law that a man's home is his castle.

"Inadvertently, I think some of the language went a little broad and I think the Senate brought it back into what is really much more consistent with our traditional jury instructions," Freudenthal said during a ceremony at the capitol where he signed a number of bills.

Wyoming joins more than 20 other states in enacting the "castle doctrine," which has been favored by the National Rifle Association.

Wyoming's version of the bill provides immunity from civil lawsuits to anyone who uses force in defense of his or her "person, property or abode or to prevent injury to another."

The bill does not cover deadly force in cases where"a peace officer is trying to enter a home or when the guardian of a child is trying to lawfully remove the child from a home.

Critics, including some Wyoming prosecutors, insist that case law already provides the right to self-defense and the law could erode existing protections. The bill is effective on July 1.

The governor also signed House Bill 10, which will increase fees at state parks and historical sites and eliminate non-resident annual camping permits.

Supporters of the bill say more revenue is needed to care for state parks and add amenities like bathrooms, showers and cabins that will attract a broader range of guests.

They also said the non-resident camping permits were a deal that wasn't reciprocated by other states.

HB 10 will increase the resident camping fee from $4 to $6 and the nonresident camping fee from $8 to $11. The annual resident camping permit price will increase from $30 to $40.

Freudenthal also signed House Bill 12, which provides funding to help veterans gain access to mental health services.

"I think it"s a good idea and think it"s a community that deserves some extra help from the state," he said. "I only wish the federal government would do their part, but if they won"t, we will."

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Freudenthal also signed House Bill 83, which will add an additional judge in the Ninth District and House Bill 155, which would create incentives to attract badly needed doctors and dentists to the state.

Reach Star-Tribune capital bureau reporter Jared Miller at (307) 632-1244 or at jared.miller@trib.com.

News Tracker

Last we knew: The Legislature passed House Bill 137, which spells out in statute that homeowners have a right to use deadly force on intruders.

The latest: Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed the bill Thursday.

What's next: The bill is effective on July 1.

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