Good news everyone! Well, good news and bad news — a mixed bag of news. First, we bring you the bad news: turns out, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has allowed drug dealers, gang members, killers, animal abusers, and violent attackers to walk free. But now for the good news! Floridians are extra creative when it comes to this law, using it in cases that lawmakers never envisioned. Talk about thinking outside the box!
Via the Tampa Bay Times, which did a comprehensive analysis on Stand Your Ground:
The number of [Stand Your Ground] cases is increasing, largely because defense attorneys are using “stand your ground” in ways state legislators never envisioned. The defense has been invoked in dozens of cases with minor or no injuries. It has also been used by a self-described “vampire” in Pinellas County, a Miami man arrested with a single marijuana cigarette, a Fort Myers homeowner who shot a bear and a West Palm Beach jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier.
To be fair, Jack Russell terriers can be pretty vicious. I mean, we’ve all seen The Mask, right? Oh and also, you’re never going to believe this, but outcomes depend on whether or not the victim is black or white:
Defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.
According to Florida lawmakers, this is no biggie. No need to panic, let’s just all calm down and take a deep breath, think a little about what we’re trying to accomplish. So some violent criminals here and there walk free. Maybe a few people are shot, and maybe they’re black, but in the grand scheme of things, isn’t the law accomplishing so many other positive things that these things are just minuscule in comparison?
Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who sponsored the law, said Monday that it is “premature” to suggest changes are needed. “I think there’s more data to come about the positive aspects of the statute as it exists,” Baxley said, noting that the law has helped people who were legitimately defending themselves. “It’s hard to do with a fairly small universe of cases to make a lot of judgments about what’s there….I think we just need to be cautious about jumping to a policy shift before we’re clear about what it is we’re trying to accomplish.”
Surely there are positive aspects to this racially disparate impact in the law’s application, especially since it can’t, of course, actually be racism — didn’t Dr Martin Luther King Jr fix racism everywhere, and for everyone? Of course he did! So, black people of Florida, rest assured that your chances of being shot and never seeing justice may or may not factor into whether or not the law is accomplishing its stated goals.