Florida Republicans’ efforts to further shield citizens who use lethal force in self-defense is sending The New York Times into apoplexy.
Florida already has a Stand Your Ground law, which removes any requirement that a citizen attempt to flee a life or death attack before using lethal force to stop the aggression. To use the law in court, “defendants must prove at a pretrial hearing that they ‘reasonably believed’ that they were threatened with grave bodily harm.”
State GOP lawmakers want to take the law one step further, shielding the right to armed self-defense by putting the onus on the state and forcing “prosecutors to prove ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ that a defendant’s claim to self-defense was not valid.”
The NYT already opposes Stand Your Ground and believes the “defects” of the law were seen in the example of George Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin in self-defense. The paper suggests the proposed changes to the law only make it “worse.”
According to NYT:
Under the proposed change, prosecutors would essentially have to try a case twice, at a hearing and then at the trial, while making it easier for defendants to claims a right to shoot first (or stab or club or otherwise attack someone) and argue against prosecution on the basis of their fears.
NYT points to an American Bar Association study which concluded that the passage of Stand Your Ground in Florida “has been followed by an increase in homicides, diminished victims’ rights and heightened racial injustice in enforcement.”
A couple of points need to be made: First, Zimmerman’s defense was based on a claim that he acted in self-defense, not on an appeal to Stand Your Ground. It follows that he was acquitted on grounds of self-defense, not Stand Your Ground.
Secondly, far from “increasing racial injustice,” Crime Prevention Research Center’s John Lott has shown that Stand Your Ground greatly benefits blacks in Florida. In his latest book, The War On Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies, Lott writes, “From 2005 through October 1, 2014, blacks made up 16.7 percent of Florida’s population and 34 percent of the defendants who invoked Stand Your Ground.” He added, “Black defendants who invoke this statute are actually acquitted four percentage points more frequently than white who use this very same defense.”
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.