The Land of the Freaks and the Home of the Deranged

Besides being a nice chap, Jack at CommonSenseDesk is a great finder and aggregator of news, and today he links to this report from Retuers, headlining his post “This Is Just Bizarre,” which is just about all the commentary it needs.
People in Florida will be allowed to kill in self-defense on the street without trying to flee under a new law passed by state politicians on Tuesday that critics say will bring a Wild West mentality and innocent deaths.

The Florida House of Representatives, citing the need to allow people to "stand their ground," voted 94-20 to codify and expand court rulings that already allow people to use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes without first trying to escape.

The new bill goes further by allowing citizens to use deadly force in a public place if they have a reasonable belief they are in danger of death or great bodily harm. It applies to all means of force that may result in death, although the legislative debate focused on guns.

The "Stand Your Ground" bill passed the Senate last week on a 39-0 vote and now goes to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who indicated he will sign it.

"This is about meeting force with force," said House sponsor Republican state Rep. Dennis Baxley of Ocala. "If I'm attacked, I should not have to retreat."

Critics have few objections to allowing people to protect themselves from intruders in their homes but said the provision making it easier to use deadly force in public gives gun owners a license to kill.

"For a House that talks about the culture of life it's ironic that we would be devaluing life in this bill," said Democratic state Rep. Dan Gelber of Miami Beach. "That's exactly what we're doing."

Like many states, Florida courts have ruled that people have a right to defend themselves in their homes. Florida courts have expanded that "Castle Doctrine" to include employees in their workplaces and drivers who are attacked in their automobiles.

Outside the home, however, courts have ruled that most victims must at least attempt to escape before using deadly force, a provision gun advocates say puts victims at greater risk. The proposal removes that requirement if a person has a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm.

Critics say the measure could lead to racially motivated killings and promote deadly escalations of arguments.

"All this bill will do is sell more guns and possibly turn Florida into the OK Corral," said Democratic state Rep. Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton.
What the hell is going on in this country?

Allowing citizens to use deadly force in a public place if they have a reasonable belief they are in danger of death or great bodily harm is just beyond nutty. A reasonable belief? How long before this defense is used to justify the killing of a black guy who has the bad luck to reach into his pocket and pull out a cell phone in the vicinity of some jittery white folks who were “reasonably” convinced it was a gun? How long before it’s used to rationalize the killing of a gay man who, his killer will claim, was attempting to “greatly bodily harm” him?

I would say this legislation were a fucking joke, if it weren’t so sickening—and a nightmare waiting to happen for anyone who has the misfortune of creating a visceral reaction in a gun-toting bigot of one flavor or another.

And what is wrong with the dimwits like Dennis Baxley of Ocala who say things like, "If I'm attacked, I should not have to retreat”? Who in his right mind prefers to go on the offensive and take someone else’s life on the chance that the other person means to take his? Getting clocked and having my wallet stolen, and waking up with a headache and the annoyance of canceling my credit cards, doesn’t sound pleasant, but it sounds better than living with the guilt of having taken another human’s life, perhaps unnecessarily. I’m truly and deeply disturbed by people who would rather have a shoot-out in the street, endangering not only the lives of a potential attacker, their own lives, and the lives of innocent bystanders, in some sort of morbid and pathetic cowboy fantasy, than run for it. They scare me way more than any hypothetical crime does.

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