***ACTION ALERT*** Our gun rights are being compromised away!

50a2656c0b17e-imageBy John Hallman

March 19, 2014

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously yesterday to pass SB 130 that makes changes to the “Stand Your Ground” law passed in 2005.  Anti-gun groups have been working for years to repeal “Stand Your Ground” and can now claim a partial victory if SB 130 makes its way into law. This bill will rewrite one of the best laws to protect your right to defend yourself ever passed in the Florida legislature.

In my opinion there was no need to make any changes to the “Stand Your Ground” law and some very large misconceptions being put out in the media about this law. It is just simply untrue that a person can shoot someone and just walk away. The current “Stand Your Ground” law still enables local Law Enforcement and State Attorneys to investigate, detain and even arrest a suspect if they feel the facts warrant those actions. It also puts the final decision in the hands of judges and juries to decide if the use of “Stand Your Ground” law is a justifiable defense.

It was no surprise that anti-Second Amendment U.S. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) was elated with the vote by saying “It is a perfect beginning for a discussion”, as she admits that she would prefer total repeal of the law.

What did come as a shock to me was that the NRA and their longtime lobbyist in Florida, Marion Hammer, came out in support of this bill, which ultimately weakens “Stand Your Ground”.  Marion Hammer claims these changes are just clarification revisions. I don’t think she has realized the unintended consequences of her support of this bill. To her credit, Marion Hammer was the driving force in passing “Stand Your Ground” in 2005. She has always defended the law and claimed that there was no need for any changes. 

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Is she is now caving to the anti-gun rights crowd? Does she not see that compromising only empowers those that hate liberty and would seek to destroy your right to arm and protect yourself and your family?

SB 130 looks to be a political stunt in an election year to appease the anti-gun rights groups. These groups have created tremendous political pressure and the real agenda for SB 130 is the door now being opened for the eventual repeal of “Stand Your Ground”.

SB 130 seeks to weaken the very foundation of why the “Stand Your Ground’ law passed in the first place. The “Stand Your Ground” statute (section 776.013) created a section of this law (776.032) of the Florida Statutes. This section provides that a person who is permitted to use deadly force under sections 776.012, 776.013, and 776.031 receives immunity from “criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force.” This law does not define what is considered self-defense. That was already defined and codified into law well before “Stand Your Ground” was enacted. This law simply creates immunity from criminal prosecution in cases where the standards for self defense (a separate law and statute) have been met. Section 776.032(2) of the statute further states that “a law enforcement agency may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force as described in subsection.”

The reason for addressing immunity with “Stand Your Ground” was that citizens acting in what was legally defined as self-defense would not have to face homicide charges and a long, expensive trial for an act that was clearly within the definition of simply defending their life.  “Stand Your Ground” does not exempt a suspect from local law enforcement and/or the State Attorney’s Office from investigating. It does not provide for blanket immunity from detainment or arrest if it is decided that someone did not act in self-defense nor was the aggressor of an act. This law was a way to protect those who were very clearly in defense of their life from going through the tremendous expense and pain of a trial. It was a way to stop victims of a crime from being further victimized by the judicial system.

“Section 776.041 already makes it clear that you are not allowed to claim protections under the “Stand Your Ground” law if you are the aggressor in the situation. If you are the one who “initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself” you have no protection under the “Stand Your Ground” law and have a much weaker case under the definition of self-defense.

SB 130 cannot be permitted to become a law. It will be the beginning of the eventual repeal of one of the best laws that protects your right to protect my life, liberty and property.

TAKE ACTION

The best chance to kill a bill is to stop it from ever being heard in the next committee stop. The next stop for SB130 is the Community Affairs Committee. Please call Senator Wilton Simpson, Chair of the Community Affairs Committee and tell him that he should not schedule SB130 in this Committee. Then call the other Republican members of the Community Affairs Committee and tell them that they should not support SB130. Tell them SB130 will weaken “Stand Your Ground” and that this compromise will only empower anti-Second Amendment groups to go for a complete repeal.

Senator Wilton Simpson (Chair) (850) 487-5018

Senator Rob Bradley (850) 487-5007

Senator Dorothy L. Hukill (850) 487-5008

Senator Jack Latvala (850) 487-5020

Senator Kelli Stargel (850) 487-5015

Senator John Thrasher  (850) 487-5006

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One Comment

  1. John,

    I suggest you take another look at SB 130. Committee substitute 2 is now present on the Senate website at http://www.flsenate.gov.

    There is only one element in the bill that could really be considered a compromise, and that is immunity would not apply to third party injuries. In other words, if you shoot in lawful self-defense and accidentally hit an innocent bystander, you could be held civilly liable. To my knowledge, that has never happened.

    However what has repeatedly and frequently occurred, is the arrest and trial of seemingly obvious cases of self-defense because immunity was denied based on the individual’s inability to adequately prove self defense was, in fact, lawful rather than the State being required to prove it was unlawful. CS2 shifts the currently misplaced burden of proof at immunity hearings back on the State, where it belongs. The result will potentially be fewer self-defense cases actually brought to trial, and more being granted immunity at hearing.

    Given the lack of examples of collateral damage and the propensity of cases which end up in a trial because the burden of proof being misplaced on the defendant, I think you’ll agree this is a net gain for the law-abiding gun owner and carrier.

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