Saturday, April 02, 2005
I have a feeling we're not in Disney World anymore: Florida goes "Wild West"
National Rifle Association officials are ecstatic about a new bill expected to be signed by Governor Jeb Bush next week. Well, they ought to be—the NRA wrote it!
Marc Caputo and Gary Fineout of the Miami Herald report,
A man's home is his castle. And, if the Florida Legislature has its way, the sidewalk or the grocery store could be his castle, too, if he shoots someone he thinks might seriously harm him.
The proposal, preliminarily approved Thursday by the full House of Representatives, was written by the National Rifle Association and is aimed at expanding and clarifying the centuries-old "Castle Doctrine."
Currently, the doctrine presumes that a person can use deadly force when someone unlawfully invades his home because the resident is presumed to have his back "against a wall." If not at home, a person generally has a duty to retreat from a confrontation. The doctrine is not fully enshrined in law.
But the proposed law says that a person who is lawfully in any place 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."
This is great! I could have popped two people in the past 12 months.
A few Democrats have been willing to buck the bill and speak out against Republican "sanctity of life" hypocrisy—
Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, a Miami Democrat, said she saw an irony in the fact that Republicans such as Baxley have repeatedly talked about Christian values and the need to preserve the sanctity of life during the debates about Terri Schiavo, whom Baxley called a "martyr" Thursday.
"If we're not careful," Bendross-Mindingall said, "it's going to be a duel at the OK Corral or the Wild, Wild West. We need to preserve life, and I know having been here for the last two or three weeks, that's all they've talked about: Preserving life. But this, I believe, is sort of speaking with a forked tongue."
Despite some Democratic speechifying against the bill in the Florida Senate, every one of them caved in to make the Senate vote unanimous.
Democrats in the Florida Senate, such as Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach, also objected to the Wild West aspects of the bill but joined Republicans in unanimously supporting it. Geller later said the proposal would have unfairly made Democrats look too "soft on crime" if they opposed it. [emphasis added]
Now the Democrats don't look "soft on crime." They just look "soft," as in "soft in the head."
A Democrat in the House worried about the grocery checkout line—
Rep. Ari Porth, D-Coral Springs, questioned whether the law would lead to death over even the most frivolous disagreements, such as trying to check out 15 items in a supermarket's 10-items-or-less lane.
If one person in line challenges another, and they get in a heated argument that escalates to threats, he asked, what could happen? "Can I then pop a cap on him, proceed to check out with my 15 items and then ask for cleanup on aisle three?" Porth, a prosecutor, asked.
Of course, that's just being silly. In real life the checkout clerk would feel threatened and blow them both away.
In any case, if you're planning a visit to Florida, be sure to pack your gun.
Meanwhile, out in Colorado they're having their own home-protection problems.
According to the Denver Post,
Thornton police officers shot and killed a city employee at his home late Friday after the employee pulled a gun on an officer, authorities said.
Police went to the residence to contact the employee regarding city administrative business, said Thornton police Cmdr. Steve Ritter.
When the employee did not respond, the officers went into the house to check on him.
Once inside, one officer was confronted by the employee, who pointed a weapon at him.
The employee was shot and taken to Denver Health Medical Center, where he died at 5:55 p.m.
This is the point that gun-control advocates keep making—that armed citizens are no match for criminals and only increase the likelihood of harm to themselves.