The KILLING Fields

On March 15, the Florida Senate once again proved its fealty to the National Rifle Association.

Scratch that: On March 15, Republicans in the Florida Senate—with the lone exception of Miami’s Anitere Flores—once again proved their fealty to the NRA.

This should not come as a surprise.

This time, their NRA overlord dictated that senators, including Northeast Florida’s very own Aaron Bean, Rob Bradley and Travis Hutson, vote to switch the burden of proof to the state when a defendant claims that they had the right to pop a cap in someone’s ass under Stand Your Ground. Well, pop a cap, stick a steak knife in their eye, whack them over the head with a frozen bass, whatevs.

’Cause clearly just what Florida needs is a whole bunch more George Zimmermans running around with a license to kill at will. As if the state isn’t enough like the Wild West.

Haven’t we all heard killers, ahem, citizens complaining about that pesky burden of proof that requires them to actually establish in court that they were privileged to beat someone to death with a cue stick? If it were my daughter’s brains splattered all over the concrete in front of her house, I’d feel so confident in the overworked, underpaid state attorney to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that her alcoholic sex-offender neighbor wasn’t legitimately fearful when he unloaded a clip in her face, wouldn’t you?

This is the kind of law that Michael Dunn would have loved to hide behind. If this law had been passed before his trial, he might be drinking rum and cokes in a seedy package store right this very minute. If this burden shift had been law before his trial, prosecutors would have had to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that 17-year-old Jordan Davis and his teenaged friends who’d just finished shopping at St. Johns Town Center weren’t a pack of hoodlums wielding tire irons or a shotgun, as the intoxicated, white, middle-aged man claimed they were after he unloaded a full clip into their SUV, reloaded and fired a few more times as they screamed and tried to escape. Nothing like putting a dead kid on trial to bring closure to his grieving parents.

If you’re not mad enough to spit nails right now, imagine Jordan Davis was white. ’Cause I’m assuming only a racist person could think that Michael Dunn was anything but a racist, cold-blooded killer when he fired 10 rounds into a carful of black teenagers on Thanksgiving weekend because he didn’t like their “thug music.” (In the world according to Dunn, “thug music” likely refers to any music that is performed by black people.)

Don’t worry, would-be killers, this law wouldn’t just help you stay out of prison, it would help you save money, too. Just think, O.J. wouldn’t have had to spend all that cash on Johnnie Cochran’s dream team if they’d had a law like this in California in 1994. Dead ex-wives and their friends tell no tales, after all; the Juice could’ve just hopped out of that white Ford Bronco, picked a 25-year-old public defender to defend him and he still probably would’ve walked. Plus he would have had the pleasure of listening to his fresh-from-law-school attorney eviscerate his ex and her possible boyfriend in front of the whole world.

Stand Your Ground is controversial enough because it essentially removes the duty to retreat from an individual who reasonably feels threatened, allowing them to use force to defend themselves. An extension of the Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use force on people who are unlawfully present in their homes or other lawfully occupied abodes, Stand Your Ground grants a similar protection to people any where and any time. If this passes, killers won’t even have to prove they were afraid, they can just doodle on legal pads while the state fails to meet the highest burden of proof that exists in law—somewhere in the certainty range of 98-99 percent.

Let the killing begin, folks.

Chilling in the local park? If someone approaches you in a threatening manner, blow their ass away. So what if they just wanted to ask why you didn’t pick up your dog’s steamer? Getting your read on when an annoying librarian menacingly asks you to leave ’cause the library’s closing? Smash their face in with that sticky copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and move the hell on, Hoss.

When lawmakers vote for something so utterly callous, obscenely stupid and downright unjust, it’s really hard to pretend that they’re not just shills for whoever signs the checks come campaign time. Do you honestly believe that Florida senators are convinced that there is some burning injustice that will be rectified by allowing killers to hide behind a beefed-up Stand Your Ground law that lets people commit murder, assert an affirmative defense, and sit back and wait for the state to prove that it wasn’t justified beyond all reasonable doubt? If so, gimme a call; I can get you a great price on the Dames Point.

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