Saturday, April 09, 2005

Jeb Bush chooses to err on the side of death

Via the Palm Beach Post:

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Jeb Bush said he will soon sign into law the so-called "Castle Doctrine" bill — giving Floridians more discretion to shoot would-be attackers in their homes, vehicles and public places — after the state House approved it overwhelmingly Tuesday.

The Senate had passed the bill unanimously.

Having moved through the legislature like a rifle shot, the NRA-backed bill, which some say will create a Wild West, shoot-first mentality in Florida, could end up being the first substantive bill signed into law this session.

That unchecked momentum stems in part, Democrats acknowledge, from their losses in the 2004 election and their perceptions about why they lost.

The measure (SB 436) not only garnered every Republican vote in both chambers but also had the support of all 14 Senate Democrats and 13 of 36 House Democrats. It passed 94-20 in the House, with three Republicans and three Democrats not voting.

"Even voters who are hurt by Republican economic policies vote Republican because they don't trust us on cultural wedge issues like gun control and religion," said Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres. "The voters stop listening to us and they don't even get to our economic issues. So we're trying to show that, if you are a gun owner, you are a Democrat too."

The top priority of the National Rifle Association in Florida this year, the measure makes it clear in state law what courts have generally ruled in Florida: There's no duty to retreat before fighting back if you're in your home, workplace or car.

But it also extends the right outside the home, saying that "a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be, has no duty to retreat."

The bill says that person has "the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so, to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another."

The bill would make shooters in such situations immune from criminal prosecution and civil action.

The idea will legalize shootouts in the streets, opponents say.

I must say Jeb has surprised me. I never figured him for one to give criminal defense attorneys such a nice gift-wrapped present.


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