Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Blast 'em, Jeb!

The Washington Post reports this morning that the State of Florida is prepared to pass a law allowing citizens to use deadly force in public places. The common law typically recognizes a right to self-defense with deadly force in a person's house. In many states, however, this right is limited to situations where there is no reasonable means of escape. Thus, if you are trapped in a room with no easy exits, you have a gun, and an intruder with a gun is approaching, you can blast him with an easy conscience and the knowledge that you aren't going to be prosecuted. However, if the room you're in opens onto the back porch and you can readily flee, the common law requires you to do so rather than blasting away like a gunslinger at high noon.

Florida, it seems, wants to expand the right to use deadly force in self-defense to all places. Now, regardless of location, if you feel threatened by deadly force in Florida, you can respond with deadly force. Personally, I think this is probably bad policy and I harbor some suspicion that the law is motivated by racial fears more than anything else. Well-ordered societies rarely thrive in an environment of gun-slinging freedom. I know the Florida law doesn't allow "gun-slinging", but it certainly provides greater freedom for those with the inclination to shoot more freely.

I'll withhold judgment, though, until I see the law put in practice. New Mexico has very liberal gun laws and allows folks to carry openly. Moreover, they have similar self-defense laws. I don't hear much about gun violence in that state, so maybe Florida's law won't do much either.