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September 30, 2005 6:58 PM   Subscribe

Aside from saving money on admission to Disney World and other theme parks, Florida residents can now use deadly force! A series of ads being runned in British papers warns potential tourists of Florida's new Shoot-First law (or the "Stand Your Ground" law for the 'backers out there). Paid for by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. [Previously on mefi]
posted by icontemplate (53 comments total)

 
Seems logical to me. Actually, they've had the law for several months. How many deaths from heated arguements have there been since this new law?

Seems like a sure fire way to force politeness all around.
posted by Balisong at 7:01 PM on September 30, 2005


Oh, it hasn't come into effect yet? Then this is just propaganda hype.
posted by Balisong at 7:02 PM on September 30, 2005


Nobody should be forced to be polite (this is a free country, remember?), and especially not for fear of being shot to death. What is happening to this country?
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 7:03 PM on September 30, 2005


This legislation actually appeals to me, both from a "if everyone knows everyone's packin', everyone will be cool" standpoint and a Darwinist "we'll just let all the scary-ass people shoot and sue each other and then the rest of us will be cool" standpoint. Of course there are always going to be people who overreact, but...I just think everyone should have a gun, that's all. That's where my head is at.
posted by deusdiabolus at 7:03 PM on September 30, 2005


Don't argue with me or I'll shoot!
posted by Balisong at 7:03 PM on September 30, 2005


Nice floriduh tag.
posted by Balisong at 7:05 PM on September 30, 2005


doh. That should be "a series of ads being placed in British papers."
posted by icontemplate at 7:27 PM on September 30, 2005


You can already do this in Texas. Why is this news?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 7:32 PM on September 30, 2005


Because it's fucking stupid.
posted by Optamystic at 7:34 PM on September 30, 2005


The reality of this is that it's really nothing new. Whatever the circumstance, the shooter still has to prove that the threat was "reasonable."
The wording of the law, as referred to in the articles and the bills, seems as though Floridians now have the benefit of the doubt if they shoot an intruder in their home but can also use deadly force in self defense if they're not on their own property. This is how it seems to work in every state that offers permits to carry a firearm.

I think the difference in this law is that it's explicit in that a resident can assume that an intruder is a threat to their life, even if they're not obviously out to hurt you. I guess the logic is that nobody would rather wait to find out (or ask) if the intruder only wants to rob you.
But still, there's nothing in this law that says anything even remotely like, "you can kill someone who is not trying to kill you." I mean, if I go to Florida and shoot somebody because they flipped me the bird, I'm still going to prison for attempted murder (or actual murder if they die) because I would never be able to convince a jury that giving someone the finger constitutes a reasonable threat to my life. All of this "people getting away with murdering each other over arguments" nonsense is just that: nonsense.

Also, it seems as though previous Florida laws required victims of violent crime to try to evade the attacker before defending themselves which, in my opinion, is absolutely ridiculous. If I'm armed and somebody attacks me (or even brandishes a weapon, constituting a reasonable threat), you can be damn sure that I'm not going to turn my back on someone with a knife or a gun who is making it obvious that they'd like to use it on me. This law gives armed citizens the right to act instantly in the interest of their own self-defense without having to engage in any prerequisite activity. Before this "stand your ground" law was passed, it seems as though you could be prosecuted for defending yourself if you didn't try to flee before you harmed your assailant. I can't be the only person who thinks that's completely idiotic, can I? Requiring a victim to attempt to flee before they can use force against an attacker? Get real!
However, this doesn't mean that they're totally legally immune in their actions, just by saying the magic words, "self-defense." Like everyone else in every other state, they'll still have their claim subject to investigation.

But don't get me wrong. I'm not some sort of NRA fundie, gun nut, kill 'em all headcase. I'm totally for gun control, gun safety, and (even though it's a constitutional right) stricter requirements for gun ownership (like mandatory safety courses, gun lock requirements, and even psych evaluations if there was some way to implement it). However, the right to self defense is of an absolutely paramount importance for every living thing and nothing should get in the way of people saving their own lives. And it seems as though the previous Florida law required people to jump through an extra hoop before they could defend themselves.
posted by Jon-o at 7:37 PM on September 30, 2005


I have often thought that one of the biggest causes of violent crime is an imbalance of power. An armed thug in, say, California, can be reasonably sure that nobody is going to be shooting back during the commission of a crime. If he can get away before the police arrive, a gun gives him a huge advantage. I believe that's why many of the most horrific crimes happen. It's not the guns themselves, it's that only SOME people are allowed to have them.

I've had the theory for years that 100% concealed carry would reduce crime enormously. I believe you'll see a flurry of initial violence after the law takes effect, and that things will settle down afterward into a lower crime and murder pattern than what existed before. As a nice side effect, I expect polite behavior would become much more 'in vogue'.

It'll be very interesting to see if that model was actually correct. And I can do so without guilt, since I wasn't involved in passing the law.
posted by Malor at 7:51 PM on September 30, 2005


"if everyone knows everyone's packin', everyone will be cool"

Please name a single location where this has actually happened. Where everyone has a gun and no one gets hurt. Please. Seriously. One.
posted by Hildegarde at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2005


This is a Karl Rove/Tom DeLay type tactic. It's kind of like getting back at your sister by pointing out how fat she is, when in fact she is a bit overweight and morbidly uptight about it. Sleazy, low and yet, effective. If the ends justify the means, and you hate guns, then perhaps you will like this ad campaign.
posted by caddis at 8:30 PM on September 30, 2005


Name a place with total gun gontrol with no crime rate.
posted by Balisong at 8:30 PM on September 30, 2005


Bhutan (before TV)?
posted by caddis at 9:07 PM on September 30, 2005


I lived in a town in Mississippi for almost a year. It seemed like darn near everyone was packing. Nobody got hurt.

Though, a few years later, two kids tried to rob an old man because they wanted to sell his guns. They came with guns. He answered the door with a gun. I think one of them may have lived. They might have gotten away with the armed robbery if they were sober...

Most people with guns don't want to use deadly force, I prefer to think.
posted by bugmuncher at 9:15 PM on September 30, 2005


But still, there's nothing in this law that says anything even remotely like, "you can kill someone who is not trying to kill you."

I'm pretty sure it says exacty that. Among the situations where lethal force (in a public place, not including all the private property ones) is justified against someone who is not trying to kill you:In none of those situations do you have to do anything other than start shooting. Whether that's a good thing or not, I don't really care, I don't have a gun or any plans to visit Florida, ever, but that's what it says.
posted by queen zixi at 9:16 PM on September 30, 2005


I still think we should wait until tommow when the law comes into effect, before we start counting the bodies.

You never know...

I usually carry a pistol, or knife, or baton on me, but I've never needed to use the pistol or baton. I use the knife all the time. But not for selfe defense.

I also don't get into fights. I can talk my way out of most situations.
posted by Balisong at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2005


I usually carry a tactical nuclear weapon. I've never needed to use it as it helps me talk my way out of most conflicts. I've gone MAD, to be sure. :)
posted by caddis at 9:26 PM on September 30, 2005


(everyone be very polite to caddis)
posted by Balisong at 9:36 PM on September 30, 2005


I used to practice selfish defense but then I got married and had a kid so I have to practice pre-emptive defense and kill everyone, everywhere before we go anywhere. Its much safer that way.

And I don't pick fights, I just start blastin'!
posted by fenriq at 9:43 PM on September 30, 2005


I'm pretty sure it says exactly that.

No, it doesn't, queen zixi...
In your bullet points, you omit the key word "reasonably."
You have to reasonably believe that you're in danger. There's still the burden of proof on the defender to show that there was in fact enough of a threat to require any kind of force to prevent harm to themselves. There's ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in this law that says you can start capping people because they just look funny. You know why? Because "they just look funny" or "I had a bad feeling" isn't a REASONABLY believable threat!


The text goes like this:

...[A]uthorizing a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under specified circumstances; creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances;

The KEY PHRASE, if you read it, is "that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists."

If you read further, it says:

...[A]uthorizing a law enforcement agency to investigate the use of deadly force but prohibiting the agency from arresting the person unless the agency determines that there is probable cause that the force the person used was unlawful.


Which means that when the police arrive on the scene, if it turns out that you shot somebody for what appears to be no good reason, you can be arrested. Or, if you shot somebody 13 times and claim self defense, they can arrest you for acting beyond the scope of lawful force. Likewise, if you shoot somebody for pushing you, you've used excessive force and can be prosecuted.
Line 22 mentions something about providing immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action. But that DOES NOT mean that if you harm someone and say "self-defense" then you're off the hook. The police will still investigate the incident and, based on their findings, either determine that you acted in self-defense and therefore are immune to prosecution and civil action OR that you acted outside of the definition of self-defense and they'll arrest you.

If you read the text of this law, there's absolutely nothing in it that's exceptional to most self-defense laws on the books in other states. In fact, there's really nothing about it that's particularly exceptional to common sense. This law, like any other, clearly states that you have the right to defend yourself in a proportional manner to the threat that you're facing.
posted by Jon-o at 10:07 PM on September 30, 2005


Jon-o, doesn't this law effectively say that the State has to prove that your actions were unreasonable, rather than you having to demonstrate that your actions were reasonable. Is this the standard placement of the burden of proof in criminal self-defense cases?
posted by Falconetti at 10:18 PM on September 30, 2005


Also,

...[A]uthorizing a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under specified circumstances; creating a presumption that a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm exists under certain circumstances;

This paragraph also states that under certain circumstances, it's reasonable to assume that you're in danger of great bodily harm. That is, it empowers a person to assume that if someone has broken into their home (or is obviously carjacking them), the intruder or attacker is not merely after their property. The invaded party doesn't have to stop and ask the burglar if they're there to harm them or if he just wants to take the stereo. Honestly, if someone broke into my home, I wouldn't want to wait to find out what their motives are.

Committing crime entails certain risks. One of those risks includes getting hurt by people who aren't happy that you're trying to rob them. It comes with the territory.
If someone gets shot while they're trying to commit a violent crime, then too bad for them. If someone is attacking you or even brandishing a weapon at stranger, it's foolish to assume that you'll be safe. This law empowers people to assume that the threat of bodily harm by an attacker is a credible threat and to act accordingly rather than giving the attacker the benefit of the doubt. Would you want to have to say, "Well, maybe he only wants my wallet. He might not really want to stab me." Or, "He's only pointing the gun at the clerk. He's not interested in me."


Falconetti,
Oops, sorry about that. You're right.
posted by Jon-o at 10:25 PM on September 30, 2005


My disease with guns is it makes violence very easy.

If a bunch of black kids starts harassing a small white woman, and she fells intimidated is that grounds for her to shoot? Even if the intent of the kids was assholishness, but not necessarily violent. (or flip the ethnic example, there is enough "racial" tension on many sides that perceived intention is often out of whack with true intention)

I tend to also think that most gun violence occurs not because people say to themselves "hey I want to shoot someone today", but in the heat of the moment. It makes it easier to do serious harm when person x finds out that person y has been cheating on them.

I don't think we can talk in absolutes, Fla. won't become a bloodbath, and an unarmed society will not have zero acts of violence. But I do think more weapons = greater incidents of harm. If you increase the supply you increase the number of belligerent assholes who also have guns AS WELL AS those who may be responsible.
posted by edgeways at 10:30 PM on September 30, 2005


Name a place with total gun gontrol with no crime rate.

the chart linked here (scroll down) has rates for various types of deaths in different countries in 1994. it's actually a pro-gun site, which you can glean by reading the text above the chart.

of particular interest, at least to me, is that the U.S. homicide rate is four times that of England/Wales and nine times that of Japan, both of which countries have significant personal firearm ownership controls, with disproportionately much of the difference attributable to firearm homicide.
posted by Hat Maui at 11:26 PM on September 30, 2005


?It seems quite simple to me, guns mean that an arguement that might have meant hurt feelings or at worse a black eye ends in death. It gives immense imbalances of power between the haves and the have nots and so everyone needs to have one to be equal therefore increasing the chance of death/wounding.

Wouldn't it just be better if they weren't so normal in the states?
posted by lerrup at 11:48 PM on September 30, 2005


Please name a single location where this has actually happened. Where everyone has a gun and no one gets hurt. Please. Seriously. One.

Switzerland. Next?
posted by foozleface at 12:29 AM on October 1, 2005


I usually carry a tactical nuclear weapon. I've never needed to use it as it helps me talk my way out of most conflicts. I've gone MAD, to be sure. :)

*idly wonders if caddis has bad hair and an obsessive love of movies*
posted by kosher_jenny at 12:42 AM on October 1, 2005


What the Florida legislation essentially does away with is the "duty to retreat" before using deadly force outside one's home. Anti-gun hysteria aside, this isn't likely to create much of a problem.

When "shall issue" concealed carry permit laws started going into effect a few years back, many people predicted (incorrectly) blood in the streets.

Didn't happen then, won't happen now.
posted by enrevanche at 2:26 AM on October 1, 2005


In Switzerland you're not allowed to carry ammunition. There's a difference between being able to own a gun and it being legal to shoot the gun at somebody.

If I wanted to rob somebody but know they would shoot me then I know I have to shoot them while they sleep.
posted by skarmj at 2:32 AM on October 1, 2005


> Switzerland. Next?

Fine. The Swiss are obviously mature enough to own guns. We should just take them away from Americans.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:09 AM on October 1, 2005


What nobody is discussing is the effect these posters would have on the average British holidaymaker. Within America, there is debate (as witnessed here) whether the Florida law is a good one or not. Take it from me, to the average British holidaymaker, the law is batshit-crazy.
posted by salmacis at 3:20 AM on October 1, 2005


Please name a single location where this has actually happened. Where everyone has a gun and no one gets hurt. Please. Seriously. One.

Gun shows. Every weekend all over the country, there are big rooms filled with guns, ammo, knives, venison sausage, and people carrying large amounts of cash. Have you ever heard of a violent crime at a gun show?
posted by Obvious Fakename at 4:29 AM on October 1, 2005


Take it from me, to the average British holidaymaker, the law is batshit-crazy.

Which is why these adverts are irresponsible. It still comes down to this -- if someone wants to shoot you just for kicks, because they're a criminal or an asshole, then they will. For someone to shoot you and be protected by this law, you have to do something to them or someone else first. Stay out of unseemly places, don't commit crime, and the odds are with you that you'll be just as fine as the 99.99% of Floridians and Florida tourists have been, are and will be.
posted by Dreama at 4:46 AM on October 1, 2005


This is exactly the sort of law that feeds into the rest of the world's perception that Americans are gun-toting, trigger-happy yahoos. If, as many here claim, it changes nothing, why pass it?

Florida has made its bed, and now it must lie in it.
posted by clevershark at 5:56 AM on October 1, 2005


As a person who isn't anti-gun (to say the least), I think the Florida law is dumb-f*ck crazy. But I have to admit that I don't know for a fact whether it really will or won't work. The only way to find a solution is to do it scientifically.

So I applaud the brave people of the Sunshine State for volunteering to be guinea pigs in this social experiment. We'll see how it turns out in a few years.

Just remember: Guns don't kill people, people kill people. Guns just make it a whole hell of a lot easier!
posted by moonbiter at 6:30 AM on October 1, 2005


Thursday we were at Disneyworld and these two Brits just slammed their car into my daughter and I. They aimed right at us and our damned electric car wasn't fast enough to get out of the way. They hit us so hard I thought my neck would snap. If this law had been in effect I would have been able to shoot the driver before she hit us. Instead, they just giggled, yelled something that sounded Old English and sped off to ram someone else.
posted by ?! at 6:48 AM on October 1, 2005


Anything that bites that damned mouse in the wallet has to be a good thing.
posted by Goofyy at 8:37 AM on October 1, 2005


Um where exactly was this in the uk papers? Or is that just made up?
posted by PaddyJames at 8:42 AM on October 1, 2005


Maybe if everyone had guns there'd be a bit less robbery, rape, home intrusion, etc., *maybe*.

But I'm picturing a lot more crimes of passion. Type-A personality having a real bad day gets cut off in traffic, and blam, somebody dies. More shootings during domestic disputes. More shootings by jealous lovers. Occasional shootings of unpopular kids in school, or teachers. Much more difficulty protecting high-profile people.

More attitude that, because you are allowed to *have* a gun means you're also allowed to *use* it, therefore people more likely to "protect their property" and settle arguments with deadly force.

Also, more stupid pointless accidents.

I think we as a species tend to be too selfish, careless, angry and stupid for weapons to make our society polite.
posted by Foosnark at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2005


I am rather surprised that I don't see the most sensible argument against this law:

It's freakin' Florida, man! The state that is so wiggy they have their own Fark tag. A state that perennially stuns the nation with the cockamamie things they do.

If Florida is implementing it, it can't be a good idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:07 PM on October 1, 2005


The only logical solution:

Issue guns to Brits as they get off the plane. Have a pistol shooting range right there in the airport, where officials can show you how to use them.

Use it to defend yourself while you are in Florida, and turn it back in on the planeride out.

Kinda like a safari.
posted by Balisong at 12:44 PM on October 1, 2005


No, no. The only logical solution is to put a wall up around Florida, protecting everyone else from the loonies that live there. A decade from now we should be able to tear the wall down, as the only survivors will be only those who are capable of living in a manner that doesn't leave them susceptible to being shot.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:01 PM on October 1, 2005


Remember the old story about how Greenland got its name? You just keep telling everyone how crazy it is in Florida. The state will continue making up weird, but ineffectual laws, and maybe, just maybe, they can stem the tide of people relocating.

I hear Cleveland is a wonderful place to live. No crazy laws in Ohio.
posted by ?! at 8:29 PM on October 1, 2005


It's freakin' Florida, man! The state that is so wiggy they have their own Fark tag.

No kidding. The US really ought to give some thought to selling it to Cuba.
posted by alex_reno at 9:10 PM on October 1, 2005


I'm way late here, but...

I've never understood how right wingnuts can be pro-life and pro-death penalty.
In much the same way, I don't get how left wingnuts can repeatedly argue that the government is becoming more fascist yet are willing to allow the government to take all of our weapons away from us.


Please name a single location where this has actually happened. Where everyone has a gun and no one gets hurt. Please. Seriously. One.

The Exit. Open until 5 am on Sat.

(I miss the old place on Wells).


People seem to dance around the law like the words mean something. This is about protection of self and property through lethal force. While I can see this will affect the disenfranchised - y'know, the folks not wealthy enough to defend themselves with 'words' or 'wit' or whatever you like to call being educated and wealthy enough to afford a decent lawyer - I can't fault it for trying to protect other people and their stuff.

Someone who breaks into my house in the middle of the night is a dead man. Law or no law. Of course, I probably don't need a gun for that...or wake the neighbors.

Unless there is shooting I probably wouldn't get involved in a conveniance store robber. But consider, why should you, if you can stop them, allow someone to take your car, your money, your business from you?

I think this law does an excellent job of empowering those on the scene. I mean, what, you're going to wait for the cops to sort everything out?
And we all trust them so much right? The courts work so well. It will mean so much to your wife and kids that the feds took a weapon out of daddy's hands so he couldn't shoot the lunatic who carjacked him and killed him, but at least the police are looking for the lunatic.

Uh huh.

There's also a law that says the police aren't obligated to help you.

There's laws against farting in Mormon churches.

Clearly passing laws does so much for reality.

This one at least recognizes what might happen on the scene and doesn't appear to try to armchair quarterback everything.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:11 AM on October 2, 2005


Foosnark: But I'm picturing a lot more crimes of passion. Type-A personality having a real bad day gets cut off in traffic, and blam, somebody dies. More shootings during domestic disputes. More shootings by jealous lovers. Occasional shootings of unpopular kids in school, or teachers. Much more difficulty protecting high-profile people.

Well, what you're not taking into consideration is that Florida, along with a number of other states has long had a "right to carry" law. This law doesn't have additional provisions about when you can *have* a gun. It provides the ability for a potential victim to not be a victim. Basically, what this law does is allow people to protect themselves if they feel endangered.

The same licensing requirements for *where and when* you can carry a gun are still in effect. If you couldn't get a permit to carry a gun before this law, you still can't get that permit. Your argument, while emotive, is based on false data.

Me, I think the law makes sense. The existing statute, which required victims to try and make a getaway before being allowed to use lethal force was insane. I think the rule should be: If you break into my house, I'm allowed to shoot you. Plain and simple. Don't want to be shot? Don't break into my house. I mean, simple cause and effect, really.
posted by dejah420 at 2:01 PM on October 2, 2005


I was going to make a snarky comment about how Canada has more guns and less murder than the USA, when I stumbled across this cool site.

And it's kind of stunning. By most measures, the USA is safer than Canada except when it involves killing one another.

Perception of Safety - Burglary: USA 78%, Canada 66%.

Perception of Safety - Walking in the dark: USA 82%, Canada 82%.

Assaults - per capita: Canada 7.11, USA 7.56 (per 1k)

Burglaries - per capita: Canada 8.94, USA 7.09

Car Thefts - per capita: Canada 4.88, USA 3.87

Rapes - per capita: Canada 0.73, USA, 0.30

Murders - per capita: USA 0.04, Canada 0.01

Murders with Firearms - per capita: USA 0.02, Canada 0.00

Robberies - per capita: USA 1.38, Canada 0.82

Total Crimes - per capita: USA 80.06, Canada 75.49

And in conclusion I figure this:

I dunno.

I feel more secure in Canada than the USA. We don't have stories up here every year about how some paranoid guntoting cocksucker has blown away a trick-or-treater. We don't have a bunch of kids packing heat at school. I never ever worry about being shot. Ever.

We may have more crime because we don't have the "enforced politeness" of guns... but we are also only one-quarter as likely to end up actually dead from crime.

I think I prefer our society up here.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on October 2, 2005


Come to think of it, don't a lot of Quebecois head down to Florida on vacation?

Further snarky Western Canadian comment repressed...
posted by five fresh fish at 12:10 AM on October 3, 2005


Yeah, FFF, they do. And a bunch of anglophone Canadians. And Northerners. Not to mention a bunch of Brits, an asshat of Aussies, a freighter of French, and I swear to god, a German or two.

Further snarky Southerner comment repressed...
posted by ?! at 12:27 AM on October 3, 2005


I never ever worry about being shot. Ever.

It may surprise our Canadian and British friends, but other than residents of significantly crime-ridden inner city communities, I'd wager that most Americans don't worry about being shot ever, either. I'm a gun owner and I don't worry about it, even though the means by which someone could shoot me exist right in my own home.

In most instances, walking around being afraid of being shot would be, IMO, a sign of unhealthy paranoia. Even in Floriduh.
posted by Dreama at 2:17 AM on October 3, 2005


The way I look at it is this: if I were a criminal who intended to break into a house in Florida, I would now take care to kill anyone I encountered in the house. This is because I know that it is unquestionably legal for them to shoot me.

Same goes for mugging, carjacking, and, frankly, any time anyone succumbs to road-rage and gets out of his car to come scream at me.

Now, maybe there is a deterrent effect to the extent that as a potential criminal, you know that you are going to have to kill the person you are going to rob in order to protect your own life, thus jacking a robbery charge into a murder charge if you get caught. But somehow I don't think most criminals think they are going to get caught when they commit a crime.

All I know is that I am going to avoid Florida as much as possible in the next couple of years (although with close family living there that may prove difficult).
posted by moonbiter at 5:23 AM on October 3, 2005


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