Pro Football Talk: Stand Your Ground Law ‘Lunacy,’ Modern Day ‘Dueling’

Joe McKnight
The Associated Press
New Orleans, LA

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk lashed out at “Stand Your Ground” laws on Saturday night. Specifically, Florio reacted to comments that New York Jets safety Antonio Allen gave to reporters on the killing of former NFL running back Joe McKnight during a traffic dispute in Louisiana. Allen said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do in this society with all these gray areas in the laws and this [‘stand your ground’] law, in particular. We’ve got to fix it.”

Florio laid the groundwork for his rant against Stand Your Ground laws, explaining what he feels these laws allow people to do. Florio said, “Multiple American states have laws that essentially permit the modern-day equivalent of a duel. But instead of counting to 10 before firing, the gun can be drawn and the trigger pulled in the inherently subjective instant that someone concludes they are being faced with serious bodily injury or death.”

Mike Florio is a trained lawyer, which is important to note because he shows in this statement that he has no idea what Stand Your Ground laws actually mean. Stand Your Ground laws in no way lower the bar for when someone can use deadly force, much less permit dueling.

On the contrary, these laws remove the requirement or expectation that a person must first run away or make some attempt to flee a deadly situation before they use force. This protects would-be victims from putting themselves at undue risk by turning their backs on someone trying to kill them, or leaving themselves open to prosecution by overzealous attorneys (probably Mike Florio’s friends) who might claim they didn’t try to “defuse the situation” before using deadly force.

Specifically, Louisiana law states: “A person who is not engaged in unlawful activity and who is in a place where he or she has a right to be shall have no duty to retreat before using deadly force as provided for in this Section, and may stand his or her ground and meet force with force.”

Nowhere in that statute does it claim that someone can legally end another person’s life, the “instant that someone concludes they are being faced with serious bodily injury or death.” The statute leaves the threshold for taking another person’s life unchanged.

Florio goes on, “At a time when football players like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick have raised legitimate questions about the educational and training requirements applicable to police officers who patrol the streets with license to use deadly force, “stand your ground” laws essentially give anyone that power — with absolutely no training on when and where and how it should properly be used.

“If that sounds like lunacy, maybe that’s because it is. It’s one thing to use firearms to protect one’s home and family. It’s quite another to remove the firearms from the home and authorize their use by anyone who believes that an adequate threat has been encountered.”

Lunacy abounds in this statement, though perhaps not the same lunacy Florio thinks. Again, as we’ve established, Stand Your Ground laws do not give anyone “with absolutely no training,” or anyone with all of the training, the same powers that the police have. They only give you the right to not have to turn your back on someone who wants you dead.

Also condescending and awful is this asserted notion that law-abiding gun owners have no idea about the laws that govern when and how they protect themselves. Every state which issues concealed carry licenses requires people to take classes where the subject of deadly force in particular gets covered thoroughly, in addition to the fact that thousands of other gun owners –concealed carry and otherwise– enroll in tactical and self-defense training of their own volition.

Florio also says something interesting here, when implies that he agrees with someone using a firearm to protect their “home and family.” Ronald Gasser, the man who shot Joe McKnight, was in his car at the time he fired the fatal shots. Why does this matter? Because, under Louisiana law, there’s no difference between someone’s home and their car when it come to the use of deadly force.

The law reads that homicide becomes justified, “When committed by a person lawfully inside a dwelling, a place of business, or a motor vehicle as defined in R.S. 32:1(40), against a person who is attempting to make an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, or who has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, place of business, or motor vehicle, and the person committing the homicide reasonably believes that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent the entry or to compel the intruder to leave the premises or motor vehicle.”

So, if Mike Florio agrees with people having the ability to use deadly force to protect themselves in their home then he must also recognize the right of someone to protect themselves in their car.

There’s much more to be said here, including the strong argument that Stand Your Ground may not even apply in this case since there’s reason to believe Gasser had no ability to flee in the first place. But, for now, let’s all just rejoice in the knowledge that Mike Florio is an NFL reporter/blogger and not still practicing law, where his silly ideas could have far more dramatic consequences.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn