Remind Me Never to Visit Florida

Look, I perceive Jeb Bush as a threat to the public. But the last thing I’d do is shoot the man. The Florida Senate has passed a bill (SB 436, aka the “Castle Doctrine” bill) that permits residents to shoot people who they suspect are attackers in their homes, vehicles, or in public places. (And I’m thinking here that arenas and pay-per-view broadcasts aren’t too far behind.) The bill provides “immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action using deadly force; authorizing a law enforcement agency to investigate the use of deadly force but prohibiting the agency from arresting the person unless the agency determines that probable cause exists showing that the force the person used was unlawful.”

So if you’re in Florida, and you decide to shoot someone, and you claim that the other person was using deadly force, not only are you granted immunity but you’ll now have ample time to make a run for the state border while the police are deciding whether probable cause exists.

But it gets better. Because the bill’s language actually encourages people not to retreat “if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.”

Of course, with any bill, there’s an escape clause. Use of force is not available if a person, withdraws from physical contact with the assailant and indicates clearly to the assailant that he or she desires to withdraw and terminate the use of force, but the assaiilant continues or resumes the use of force.”

The big question here is how a person can convey his desire not to be shot within that seminal split-second of adrenaline. I’m sure we can count on a gun-totinng Florida resident hopped up on emotional instinct to put down the .45 with a cool head and invite the other person in for a cup of tea.

If this is the natural progression of legislation, then we’re only a few years away from Death Race 2000/Robert Sheckley-style reality television.

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