The Associated Press press reports that the Italian Senate has just approved a bill to better protect the self-defense rights of crime victims. "[T]he bill would allow people to shoot at thieves attempting to burgle homes, shops or offices, even if the target of the burglary was not judged under immediate threat, Italian daily Corriere della Sera said."
The principle of "proportionality" has long been misused against Italian crime victims. In a 2002 article, Carlos Stagnaro and I wrote: "The courts insist that the defense must be 'proportional' to the aggression — so that if a man is using his bare hands to commit rape, the woman cannot fight back with a gun. Likewise, if your home is invaded by a gang armed with knives, the courts will not allow you to use a firearm against them.
The campaign to reform Italian gun laws, which are hold-overs from the nation's Fascist era (as Stagnaro and I detailed in another article), has been in progress since Silvio Berlusconi's election in 2001. Given Italy's status as a prime target of al Qaeda, further reform of Italian laws, to enable decent people to protect themselves against sudden attacks, would be eminently sensible.
UPDATE: Several authors on the interesting and diverse Comments discussion have wondered how expansion of the Italian right to self-defense would help in the war on terrorists. As some comments note, citizens carrying firearms (or edged weapons) would not be of use in defending against a London-style attack, involving remote-control hidden bombs. Certainly true. In other situations of self-defense against Islamonazism, citizen possession of firearms can be very helpful, as illustrated by the experience of Israel and Thailand.