October 1, 2005


Florida Law Lets Citizens 'Meet Force With Force': Civilians may stand their ground with a firearm if they feel threatened by another. (John-Thor Dahlburg, October 1, 2005, LA Times)

Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State. Please avoid unnecessary arguments with locals. Starting today, they may be more inclined to shoot you — at least that's essentially the message from a national gun-control organization as a Florida law goes into effect empowering people who feel threatened to use force, including firearms, to protect themselves.

Before, if possible, they were supposed to back down or run away. [...]

Under a legal concept derived from English Common Law, known as the "Castle Doctrine," it has been long held that people have the right to stand their ground if attacked in their home. [state Rep. Dennis K. Baxley], a Republican from Ocala, said the new legislation explicitly enshrined that principle in Florida statutes and extended the concept of a person's "castle" to personal space in a car or anywhere else he or she is entitled to be.

"We want people to know that the law contains a presumption that they have the right to protect themselves," Baxley said.

Previously under Florida law, people acting in self-defense outside their home or workplace were supposed to use any reasonable means at hand to escape the danger, including retreat. The new law says they can "meet force with force."

Last spring, the legislation sailed through the Florida House on a 94-20 vote, was unopposed in the state Senate and was signed by Gov. Jeb Bush.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 1, 2005 7:56 AM

One of the indicators of the decline in Britain is its abandonment of the Castle Doctrine.

Posted by: George at October 1, 2005 10:54 AM

Print this in the Brit papers and there'll be even more of a housing bubble around Orlando and other parts.

When the Brits start choosing America over the coast of Spain for a 2nd home, I still think they're getting out while the gettin' is good.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 1, 2005 11:15 AM

Wow, my state just got a whole lot safer. Thanks Jeb!

Posted by: Buttercup at October 1, 2005 1:06 PM

Always been the law in my house, regardless of state.

If the law ever spreads to NYC the unsolicited car window washers had better get armored vests.

Posted by: Genecis at October 1, 2005 1:56 PM

One must read the statute itself to determine exactly what it means. Having read it, I find that, while it certainly does not do what the gun-grabers claim, it does expand the right of self-defense in some interesting ways. It does this, moreover, by creating an evidentiary presumption in favor of the reasonableness of defensive force in what are commonly called home invasion and car-jacking situations. As a practical matter this makes it easier for police and presecutors to decline arrest and prosecution in righteous shootings by saying that they have no evidence rebutting the presumptions of reasonableness.

The statute also negatives the duty to retreat when assailed out of doors. Note here, however, that the defense is still dependent upon the reasonableness of the actor's belief that deadly force is necessary to defend agaist death, serious bodily injury, or forcible felony.

Nice law: the gun lobby rolls forward on all fronts.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 1, 2005 4:47 PM

The Wahoo vote?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 2, 2005 2:46 PM

I suspect that the word should have been "yahoo." Native speakers of the tongue of the neolithic wheelbarrow people mix up "Y" and "W."

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 2, 2005 10:08 PM