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  • Stupid Journalist Tricks and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

    Posted by Jonathan on August 23rd, 2006 (All posts by )

    Strange Women Lying in Ponds eviscerates a tendentious Miami Herald article about Florida’s new self-defense law.

    Miami Police Chief John Timoney is quoted in the article:

    What you’re going to see is drug dealers using this [i.e., the new law] to settle scores, and the Legislature has basically given them permission

    Timoney should know better. Perhaps he does. This quote reflects poorly on him in any case. The Herald plays along, because the reporters and their editors are either too lazy to do a little research or because they like what Timoney is saying or both. The fact is that no matter the changes in the law, anybody who shoots another person is going to receive full investigative scrutiny and be prosecuted if the shooting was not in self-defense. That’s as it should be. (To its credit the article provides a quote from the NRA’s Marion Hammer, who reasonably points out that criminals have claimed self-defense since long before the new law was enacted. However, Hammer’s one quote is offset by numerous quotes from opponents of the law, most of whom ignore the law’s substance.)

    In particular, the article’s emphasis of State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s comment that the new law complicates prosecutions misses the point, and the authors mislead by not providing more background on the law. The very reason the law exists is that prosecutors like Fernandez Rundle had gained a reputation for being too willing to prosecute otherwise-law-abiding individuals who defended themselves against violent attacks. The new law exists in part to clarify the legislature’s intent that good-faith attempts at self-defense not be punished. The law would not have been proposed, then easily passed and enacted, if there were no problem with prosecutors who abused their discretion.

    UPDATE: A follow up by SWLIP.

    (Related posts here and here.)


    4 Responses to “Stupid Journalist Tricks and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law”

    1. John Says:

      It’s like the dipsticks complaining about the 3 strikes laws – saying that a criminal on his third strike will be more likely to kill to eliminate potential witnesses. First, that’s why we have a death penalty (if we only had the guts to use it…), but second, show me. Where are these 3 strikes killings? Becuase you konw the liberal press would be all over one of those in a heartbeat. Now, I think that 30 years for a third shoplifting offense is stupid, but a shoplifter is not going to kill witnesses, either. We can change the law to include only violent crime and the naysayers will still be complaining.

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      I am reminded of the predictions that states that expanded their concealed carry permits would turn into “Dodge City.” Of course, violence in such states either stayed the same or decreased. In most states, those with concealed carry licenses used their weapons improperly at a lesser frequency than police officers.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      I suspect that many crimes occur because people who are lawfully carrying weapons are afraid of prosecution and so don’t get involved. (This happened during a recent mass-shooting in a mall near Seattle, where one of the victims, who had a gun, said that he didn’t shoot because he thought he might be punished for it.) Of course some of the people who don’t get involved shouldn’t get involved, but on balance I think we might be better off if some prosecutors were less hung up on discouraging what they see as vigilantism.

    4. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      Yeah, I’m sure those drug dealers with a grudge are thinking “Whew! That was a close one! Good thing I calmly considered all my options last week and waited until this week to off that guy!”