Monday, March 26, 2012

A good write up about the Florida "stand your ground" law:

At Construction Lit Mag. Excerpt: (emp add)
What is particularly problematic about the 2005 Florida Stand Your Ground law (and its counterparts nationwide) is that it upends decades of legal developments specifically designed to strike a balance between the right to self-defense and the prevention of vigilante justice. As former prosecutor Gregory O’Meara notes, the statutes and common law governing the self-defense doctrine in most states require the person claiming the defense to prove that he reasonably thought that he (or a third party) was unlawfully under imminent deadly attack, that the deadly force taken in response to this attack was necessary to stop the attack, that the defender acted solely with the intent to thwart the unlawful attack, and, in many jurisdictions, that it was unsafe for the defender to have withdrawn from the confrontation before using deadly force. This defense applies “even if the defender is completely wrong about the situation but his mistake is reasonable about either the imminence of the deadly attack or the necessity of his forceful response.” Finally, the question of reasonableness is usually one for a jury, ensuring that the community is (at least nominally) given the opportunity to determine whether an individual was justified in his use of deadly force. Taken as a whole, the defense is aimed at preventing the use of gunfire as conflict resolution and to ensure some legal accountability for people whose objectively unreasonable beliefs prompt them to kill first and ask questions later.

But this is no longer the case for many of our states, including Florida, which expanded their gun laws in such a way that allows people to shoot without having to prove that they were actually in danger. As Professor Winkler notes, [the law's sponsor's] explanation that the law does not apply to people who seek out or escalate a confrontation rings hollow because according to the law’s plain language, “[s]o long as someone reasonably thinks he or someone else is in danger, he can shoot to kill, regardless of whether the shooter is the one who initiated the hostile confrontation.” The law also does away with the duty to retreat and, unlike laws in other jurisdictions, does not require that the person have actually witnessed someone committing a felony before shooting at them. Perhaps most egregious, a separate provision of the Florida law removes the question of reasonableness from the jury altogether: such an individual is (almost always) completely immune from civil or criminal liability, and cannot even be arrested unless the police find probable cause that the person used unlawful force. Rather than protecting the rights of homeowners, according to Florida law enforcement officials, the law has resulted in chaos: a nearly threefold increase in justifiable homicides and acquittals in cases of road rage and gang violence.

The death of Trayvon Martin reemphasizes that sweeping stand-your-ground laws, like the one in Florida, provide an unwarranted opportunity for individual to claim self-defense under manifestly unreasonable circumstances. Pimped by pro-gun lobbyists, these laws are by and large a part of the gun rights movement’s push to allow people to carry firearms essentially anywhere. The laws blur the line between victim and aggressor, encourage a culture of vigilantism, and are ambiguous to the point of absurdity. In Florida, even if you initiate or escalate a confrontation, you can kill anytime, anywhere, and without a thought of retreat so long as you “reasonably” believe your life is being threatened (say, by an unarmed teenager carrying Skittles and iced tea); virtually everyone is now at the mercy of the “reasonable beliefs” of anyone with a weapon and an attitude.
Never knew of until today. It looks promising (and is well written).


If there isn't there should be a country song:


By Blogger Shag from Brookline, at 3/27/2012 3:17 AM  

artificial grass

HI Shag. Laws should be beneficial and is directed towards the welfare of its citizens but they are at times very inconvenient.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/27/2012 12:35 AM  

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