Sunday, April 9

Trying to Understand Stand Your Ground

Two recent cases in Northeast Florida have me questioning the stand your ground law more than ever. One involves a bar fight and the other road rage, but both seem to allow more than you'd expect from a law meant to be used to protect responsible gun owners.

The St. Augustine bar fight went down like this: two guys get into a fight. One is losing the fight, so he pulls out his gun (which was banned in the bar) and kills his opponent. He's acquitted and only charged with a misdemeanor gun charge.

The other case is the local road rage story where occupants of two cars are getting into it. The passenger (wife) in one car throws a water bottle into the other car. The other driver shoots back with a gun. He's not charged because of stand your ground. The first driver retaliates with a gun instead of another water bottle. He is charged with attempted murder but will probably also use the stand your ground defense.

Do you see the problem here? The stand your ground law is encouraging people in non-lethal situations to retaliate with lethal force. The man losing the bar fight had no reason to assume he was going to be killed by getting his ass kicked. Most of us deserve an ass kicking once in a while. But he was a bitch and grabbed his gun, and I'd say if you bring your gun into a bar where no one is supposed to have one, you're planning on using it if you get into a bar fight. Just as importantly, the decision makes it nearly impossible for any male in his fightin years to NOT bring his gun everywhere he goes, since it's likely every other male also has a gun, and it's legal to kill anyone who might kick your ass.

Honestly, even at my age, I see a ton of people around Jacksonville whose asses I could pummel in a fight. But I guess that's not an option anymore, because the moment you win a fist fight, you're now the assailant and can be shot dead because of our rights to protect our property from British soldiers.

The other case is similar in that Lady MacBeth only tossed a water bottle at Dad 2. That's bad and should have led to an arrest, but it apparently created a justified shooting situation. Unless it was a 20-pound jug of water that crashed through the windshield, I'm thinking you still just call 911 and let the po-po handle it. 

Yes, Dad 1, after he realized his daughter had been shot, should have pulled over to tend to her instead of firing on Dad 2 (shooting Daughter 2) in return, but the gun escalation had already begun, and you could argue that returning actual gunfire is much more standing your ground than bringing a gun to a water bottle fight.

I know, maybe the bar fight guy who got killed was a kickboxer who was himself a deadly weapon, and a pickup truck/ water bottle combo is probably a deadly weapon, but it just feels like every shooting where people are disagreeing will lead to the stand your ground defense. In a state with millions of guns and a new conceal carry law, I'd say that means none of us should ever have any disagreements with anyone ever.

A few months ago, I saw a sports dad (justifiably) yell at an athletic director who employs a very awful coach. The dad was fairly fit, and the athletic director is an old-ass man. Based on Florida law, I assume the athletic director could have shot the dad dead because he would have taken an ass-pounding in a fight. Instead, they both yelled and then eventually talked it out in the parking lot. Even if the dad had pushed or punched the athletic director, it should have then ended with some kind of assault charges and nothing more. The other parents would have broken up the fight. But our law allows and, in a way, encourages a similar situation to end in a shooting. Even if the old man had been the first to throw a punch or pull out some pepper spray, the shooter who responds seems to get a huge benefit of a bad law.

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