Known as "Castle Doctrine" legislation, the Pennsylvania measure mandated no "duty to retreat" from an attacker, allowing citizens to "stand their ground" outside the home to protect themselves and their families.
Presently, 18 states have enacted a Castle Doctrine law, one state has passed a Stand Your Ground law and 12 states have both—for a total of 31 states with some form of legislation protecting the right to self-defense outside of the home.
The measure easily passed the Pennsylvania Senate by a 45-4 vote in October and the state House by a 161-35 margin in November.
Rendell, a term-limited Democrat whose term expires Jan. 18, vetoed the bill on the last possible day before it would have automatically become law.
Supporters of the Castle Doctrine remain optimistic a new bill will become law by mid-2011, and Republican Governor-elect Tom Corbett has said he will sign such a measure should it reach his desk.
Rendell told reporters he supported the right to use deadly force against an intruder in a person's home, but did not support the elimination of "the principle of law that we've had since English common law: the duty to retreat."
An Investor's Business Daily editorial, a publication not normally known for covering firearms and personal-protection issues and legislation, said, "If all victims had to do was retreat to ensure avoidance of being robbed, raped, assaulted, or murdered, the crime rate would be extraordinarily low...The fact is that the 'duty to retreat' existed in English common law until 1532, when it was changed."