Pennsylvania's Expanded Castle Doctrine: An Annotated Tour of the First Five Years

Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly 2017

15 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2022 Last revised: 12 Aug 2022

See all articles by Jonathan S. Goldstein

Jonathan S. Goldstein

McNelly & Goldstein

Joseph Greenlee

The Heartland Institute; Firearms Policy Coalition; Millennial Policy Center

Date Written: October 1, 2017


After several attempts over several years, in 2011, Pennsylvania altered its self-defense laws, expanding the Commonwealth’s existing castle doctrine. The changes removed crime victims’ duty to retreat under certain circumstances, changed certain evidentiary standards related to the use of force, and narrowed the rights of violent attackers to bring civil suits. The changes were hotly opposed by traditional anti-gun constituencies who argued volubly and extensively that the changes would increase violence across the Commonwealth. Data gathered in the wake of the changes show that no such wave of violence emerged and that, in fact, violent crime dropped after the expansion of Pennsylvania’s castle doctrine.

Suggested Citation

Goldstein, Jonathan S. and Greenlee, Joseph, Pennsylvania's Expanded Castle Doctrine: An Annotated Tour of the First Five Years (October 1, 2017). Pennsylvania Bar Association Quarterly 2017, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan S. Goldstein

McNelly & Goldstein

United States

Joseph Greenlee (Contact Author)

The Heartland Institute ( email )

3939 North Wilke Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
United States
(312) 377-4000 (Phone)
(312) 277-4122 (Fax)

Firearms Policy Coalition ( email )

1215 K Street, 17th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
United States

Millennial Policy Center ( email )

3443 S. Galena St., #120
Denver, CO 80231

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