Not Wise to Attack Floridians

Thursday, February 24, 2005

From the St. Pete Times:

Some Florida legislators want to give people the right to shoot an attacker in a public place.

A House committee voted Wednesday to allow people to shoot to kill in self-defense if they are attacked "in any other place where he or she has a right to be." Sponsored by Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, the bill (HB 249) passed 13-0.

State law defines deadly force as that which is likely to cause "death or great bodily harm," such as firing a gun at a person or a vehicle.

Florida courts consider deadly force a last resort and have held that a person being attacked has the "duty to use every reasonable means to avoid the danger, including retreat, prior to using deadly force."

But this legislation says a person who is under attack in a public place "has no duty to retreat."

"Law-abiding people should not be told that if they are attacked, they should turn around and run," NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer told lawmakers. "This bill gives back rights that have been eroded and taken away by a judicial system that at times appears to give preferential treatment to criminals."

Baxley held up a stack of more than 800 e-mails from Floridians who he said have written him to support the bill. He said 62 House members, a majority, have endorsed his bill, and supporters include Attorney General Charlie Crist and groups representing Florida sheriffs, police chiefs and police officers.

Rep. Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral, said the bill reminded him of a sign he saw on a constituent's house while campaigning door-to-door. Kottkamp said the sign, next to a doorbell, showed a smoking .44-Magnum handgun and the words: "We don't dial 911."
This is great news for Florida gun carriers because now to defend yourself you don't have to first make sure a "duty to retreat" is impossible. Currently, if one's life is threatened he/she must make sure it is impossible to escape before using deadly force on an attacker.