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.
Other groups stand by the "no retreat" laws."At the moment a crime occurs, victims don't have the luxury of time," said Andrew Arulanandam of the National Rifle Association. "They have seconds to decide on a course of action to protect their lives and their families. This law provides law-abiding people with options."
In our discussions the other day about this case and others like it, we all seemed to agree that if a criminal is using a car as a deadly weapon and the only way for someone to save themselves is to shoot at that vehicle, then whatever happens is justified. I say that's an extremely unlikely set of circumstances. You see it in the movies all the time, but in real life I'd say it's extremely rare.
In today's CNN story it says Mr. Jones heard the sound of his SUV being started in the barn. He grabbed his gun and went out to investigate.
He said he could see two people in the SUV as it backed out of the barn, according to the affidavit. He said he saw the passenger's arm reach outside the vehicle, and believed that person might be holding a gun.
The Land Cruiser stopped directly in front of him, Jones said in the affidavit. He said he raised his gun and pointed it at the occupants, shouting "Stop," but the vehicle appeared to be moving directly toward him.
"Fearing for his life, he then fired what he thought to be six to eight rounds into the front windshield of the vehicle," the affidavit stated.
The vehicle backed up at high speed, crashed through a fence and ended up in a ditch. Jones told police a man jumped out of the SUV and ran away.
I wonder if he shot because he thought the passenger had a gun or because the vehicle "appeared to be moving directly toward him." But a moment before that it had stopped, according to his affidavit.
I doubt it was either one. I think he shot because someone dared to take what was his, because someone had the audacity to steal from him. I fear many gun owners have this exaggerated sense of proprietary rights. I say they're exaggerated. I say it's not right to shoot bullets into someone's head because they're stealing something from you. I say it's not right to kill someone on your property and then stumble around for a justification, "they seemed to have a gun", the car "appeared to be moving towards me". And, finally, I don't think it's right for other gun owners and the State of Florida itself to support this shabby behaviour which is nothing other than vigilantism.
What's your opinion? Do you think Florida may be trying to be hard on criminals with laws like these? Do you think killing someone for stealing from you is justified even if your life is not threatened?
Please leave a comment.