Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deadly force law hasn't changed the Florida landscape

When Florida's so-called* "stand-your-ground law" took effect in 2005, a well-known anti-gun organization started issuing scary warnings to tourists.

The Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence advised Florida's visitors to avoid arguments with the locals, lest they be gunned down by a populace now free to pull the trigger whenever anyone made them feel nervous.

"If someone appears to be angry with you, maintain to the best of your ability a positive attitude and do not shout or make threatening gestures," the Brady bunch advised.
Good advice anywhere, as I said at the time. Wear sunscreen during outdoor activities, too. But I saw no reason to think that new law would create a Wild West atmosphere anywhere in the Sunshine State that didn't already have one.

The law says a person not engaged in a crime who is attacked in a place he has a right to be "has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

There was no spike in murders disguised as self-defense that year, but statistics since then can be debated. Some measures do show a significant increase in shootings labeled self-defense. And yet, I have not heard of one that struck me as a case where a shooter would and should have been sent to prison under the old law, but had charges dismissed or never filed thanks to the new one."

Normally, whenever a writer invokes the wishy-washy "so-called"*, I await a disclaimer, but in this instance it seems like nothing more than a case of bad writing.

I too check the stats for an example of someone getting away with what the Brady Panty-Bunch would call murder, but haven't seen hide nor hair of one to date. When the law became law all the local talk revolved around folks being extra careful so as not to give the Panty-Bunchers something to squawk about, and that's pretty much what most of us envisioned. 

Men of good will not taking advantage of anything they are not legally entitled to.

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