As usual, there was corruption, waste, bigotry, and a slew of stupidity that marked the GOP/Rick Scott reign in Florida. But the winner for this year was clear.
Right now in Florida, thanks to the NRA-controlled GOP legislators, perpetrators have more authority to shoot and kill than U.S. troops have in war. The law was drafted and funded by the NRA. It exposes police to criminal and civil penalties if they arrest someone who is claiming self-defense. (Hence, the SNL sketch about being a policeman in Florida).
Worse, it says that anyone can shoot anyone if they "reasonably believe" that they or someone else is in imminent danger. So the burden of proof is highly subjective: just someone believing or imagining a danger means you are in the clear--regardless of the fear is based on misperception or, as we here have often seen as the case, ethnic prejudices.
Worse still, it is obvious to everyone that the law is being used with malice by people murdering and then claiming "SYG". Which has happened quite often: the majority of people in Florida who claim SYG have a criminal record. And they have been successful in exploiting the SYG law: 70% of people who claim SYG go free.
A few examples:
- Judge dismissed murder charges under SYG after a man killed two unarmed people.
- Another one went free after he shot a black man laying on the ground
- Man acquitted who shot a man in bed with his wife
- Two gang members using AK-47s gunned down an 15-year old were granted immunity under STG
- A Miami man fired at two unarmed Florida Power & Light workers who had entered his yard to cut power due to unpaid bills. The judge said he was protected by SYG.
Google "crazy stand your ground cases" and you will get dozens. People being set free under SYG even though they shot the victim in the back, or shot someone trying to deliver a paper, or misinterpreted a deaf guy. It goes on and on.
One of the major issue with the law is that the defendant, as it is written, can INITIATE the fight, pursue the victim and shoot them even if they are unarmed AND retreating. All the perpertrator has to do is claim at some point he was "threatened" by you:
Its so f-d up that even Durell Peaden, the former Republican senator who sponsored the bill, said the law was never intended for people who put themselves in harm's way before they started firing. But the NRA and thus, our GOP officials rejected even that simple tweak to the law.
After the Travyon shooting, Rick Scott put together a "task force" following the public outcry that was supposed to review the law and recommend changes. Even though researchers have shown that under SYG homicides have increased while empirical studies have found it simultaneously does not deter crime, no opposing research was allowed to be presented. In fact, the "task force" was made up of six people appointed by Rick Scott, including two of the original drafters of the SYG bill, three ALEC members, and this idiot.
Surprisingly, they recommended the NRA law be completely unchanged.
I haven't even up till now mentioned the obvious racial inequalities of the law. The graph speaks for itself:
I'll just say that right now, as I'm typing this, an active duty airman and father of three with no prior criminal history (unlike Zimmerman) fired his gun and did NOT kill (unlike Zimmerman) during a violent brawl he did not start involving 40 people and claimed to be in fear of his life.
The Daily Show featured this segment as one of their best of last year. Even a fake news channel can't make this stuff up. As John Oliver said, Florida needs to change our motto.