A pair of thieves try to steal an orange grove owner’s SUV, which was parked in a barn on his property. When it appeared they were going to run him over he fired a handgun, killing the passenger. The CNN reporter displays apparent surprise that he won’t be charged with a crime. Fortunately for the victim (that would be the SUV owner for those who aren’t clear) Florida has strong Castle and “No Retreat” laws to protect him.
You have to love the gun-grabbing Brady Campaign’s spin on the incident:
The Brady Campaign to prevent Gun Violence says Florida is one of 16 states that have enacted “no retreat” laws, which some call “shoot-first” laws. The laws extend the right to use deadly force beyond a person’s home and into public places.
“The shoot-first law is not needed,” said Brian Malte of the Brady Campaign. “This person, regardless of the situation, may have done the right thing, but he cannot be prosecuted for doing something wrong if he hit an innocent bystander,” he said.
As is usual for this group, the statement is a deliberate lie and, as CNN so often does, the reporter let him get away with it.
First, “No Retreat” laws do not “extend the right to use deadly force beyond a person’s home and into public places.” Rather, they remove the requirement of retreat when a victim is in a place he has a legal right to be. The right to defend yourself in public existed prior to enactment of the “No Retreat” law, but previously you had to demonstrate that you had done everything in your power to flee the situation first. This gives a blatantly unfair advantage to criminals, who are often stronger and faster than their victims. Turning to flee gives the criminal time to close the distance with the victim and press the attack directly. Now victims can use that time, instead, to present a weapon for self defense. That change in law was most certainly needed. (Note that, in any case, this crime was perpetrated on the victim’s own property rather than in public.)
Second, Florida’s laws do not allow indiscriminate use of a handgun. In order to avoid prosecution, the victim must have reasonable belief that he is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury. Further, Florida has nothing on the books which would prevent prosecution for shooting bystanders. Gun owners are responsible for every bullet they fire, regardless of intent. In this case the criminals had a deadly weapon (the SUV) and were approaching the victim—a classic case of failure in the victim selection process which resulted in a dead criminal.