Governor Ron DeSantis has reportedly drafted legislation that would unnecessarily expand Florida’s already controversial Stand Your Ground (SYG) law.
Under current SYG laws, someone is justified in using deadly force if they “reasonably believe” it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. So, what does that mean? If a shooter wishes to kill you, all he has to do is claim he ‘feared for his life’? The burden of proof is automatically shifted to the prosecution.
Prior to SYG laws, use of deadly force was justified only if a person reasonably believed he/she was at imminent risk of injury or death, with no safe way of retreating from the confrontation. The new SYG, absurdly and dangerously, removed the duty to retreat.
The proposed legislation includes an ‘anti-mob’ provision, which would justify the use of force by a citizen against looters and protesters engaged in conduct resulting in the “interruption or impairment” of a business within 500 feet of a “violent or disorderly assembly.” Is this starting to smell like racist propaganda to you, too? The proposal would also:
- Increase penalties for people who participate in “violent or disorderly assemblies.” (again, who defines “violent or disorderly”? Isn’t this unconstitutional)
- Make it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest or get involved in looting or any other “criminal mischief that disrupts business.” ( and if you do this, someone can shoot you? seriously? Also unconstitutional)
- Provide immunity to drivers who claim that they unintentionally killed or injured any protesters who were obstructing traffic during a “disorderly assembly.” (State-sanctioned murder?)
Leave it to Ron Desantis, the worst governor in the history of Florida. ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws encourage racism, send a message to shoot first and ask questions later, and encourage impulsive and illegitimate uses of deadly force. Such laws only open the door to a more dangerous country, where more citizens will carry, and, if those citizens feel threatened (rationally or not), they may shoot first and ask questions later.
SYG laws do not prevent criminal violence or make us safer; they encourage more violence, lawlessness, and angry citizens taking the law into their own hands. Desantis’ so-called anti-mob provision is overtly racist, targets lawful protestors, and threatens public safety by encouraging armed vigilantism. Isn’t a protestor innocent until proven guilty . . . of something? Anything?
Now, John Q. Citizen can be a police officer, judge, jury, and executioner, even if the victim was not guilty of any crime. Desantis dangerously grants citizens the power to kill based on their own subjective determination of “criminal mischief.” With SYG, Black Lives Matter will become Black Lives Worthless because any racist can allege “disorderly assembly” and shoot his favorite targets. Remember the wild-wild west? How many of us long for a return to the nineteenth century where citizens gun down their neighbors in the street? Is this the America we want, a country that encourages street justice?
As of this writing, this abomination has not been filed as an official bill in the Florida House or Senate—let’s pray it never sees the light of day.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.