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Columbia County Observer

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Florida GOP Gives NRA Another 'Gun Rights' Victory: What's Next?

On Nov. 23, 2012, Michael David Dunn was at a gas station in Jacksonville when he got into an argument with 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was there with some friends. It seems the music coming from Davis’ car was too way loud for Dunn’s taste.

There was an argument, which ended with Dunn going back to his car to retrieve a loaded handgun. He had a concealed-weapons permit for the gun.


He fired off 10 shots in the car killing Davis, who was unarmed. He then went out for a pizza.

Dunn claimed he felt threatened and invoked Florida’s Stand Your Ground defense.

His first trial ended in a hung jury, but he was convicted in a retrial and is now serving life in prison without parole. If — well, when — the same thing happens in the future, though, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have greatly increased the odds the next shooter will go free.

Scott signed a bill, introduced and passed by Republicans with a party-line vote, that could make it difficult (if not impossible) for prosecutors to convict anyone invoking Stand Your Ground. Prosecutors will now have to prove a shooter didn’t feel threatened and, well, how can they do that?

The National Rifle Association, of course, doesn’t see it that way. In a release after the new bill became law, Marion Hammer — NRA Grand Dame and Executive Director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida — celebrated the new law that, in her words, “ … places the burden of proof back on the state where it belongs.  And it restores the right of the presumption of innocence and the right of self-defense.”

Well, not exactly.

Let’s say there is video of a shooting along the lines of what happened in Jacksonville, where a guy goes back to his car and gets his gun and starts blasting away. Well, what are you going to believe — your lyin’ eyes, or the argument Dunn tried to make that he thought he saw a shotgun in Davis’ car?

There was no shotgun, but Davis’ swears he thought he saw one. Going forward, the state would have to prove he made that up to cover his tracks.

Oh, but wait … the NRA isn’t through expanding what it laughably calls “gun rights.”

How long will it be before some legislative lap dog tries to push through a “permitless carry” law in Florida? Such a measure would allow anyone who would otherwise qualify for a license to carry permit to do so without the burden of obtaining a license.

Don’t laugh.

Twelve states already have that law, and it apparently came close to passing this year in Texas. When North Dakota adopted that law in March, the NRA noted in a release that it, “ … reduces the burden of government fees and mandates on citizens who choose to exercise their Second Amendment right to self-protection.”

Does it ever stop?

Joe Henderson had a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune.  Mr. Henderson has numerous local, state and national writing awards. He has been married to his wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years, and has two grown sons. Column courtesy of Florida Politics.

This piece was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On June 22, 2017, Citizen 49a of Lake City wrote:

"There was an argument, which ended with Dunn going back to his car to retrieve a loaded handgun. He had a concealed-weapons permit for the gun."

"There was an argument"

Who reading this believes that a jury failed to convict Dunn on the basis of nothing more than a simple verbal argument?

I submit that what you are reading here is the typical tool of the liberal press to sell its talking points.

The term "argument" is ambiguous. Was there pushing and shoving? Was Henderson threatened? Was he struck?

We don't know, because all we are given here is a report by Mr. Henderson that "there was an argument."

I think it is highly likely that if the facts were presented a little less selectively, it might be much more apparent that Mr. Dunn's actions were justified.

Liberals are all aghast nowadays that many people are calling the press "fake news."

Mr. Henderson's column is a good example why.

A jury heard the facts of this case and made the determination that Dunn was, in fact, standing his ground, within the existing legal definition of that term. That jury was selected subject to the approval of both the prosecution and the defense.

The system worked.

In spite of that, I think Henderson may have a point about permitless carry. It may present a problem in some circumstances, so I propose a compromise.

How about we pass an open carry law for the state of Florida instead? I'm sure that if liberals agreed to support a bill that provided for legal open carry, then Constitutional Second Amendment advocates in the state of Florida would agree to forego trying to implement permitless concealed carry in Florida.

We don't know what exactly happened in the Dunn case, but I suspect that if Dunn had been carrying a pistol openly whatever induced him to go back to the car and get his pistol may not have occurred in the first place.


On June 15, 2017, DB wrote:

This is just another liberal rant. The burden of proof of guilt has always been on the state, ever heard the tern innocent until proven guilty. If I am ever forced to take another life I am gladdened to know that some politically correct states attorney will not be able to single handedly be able to win a conviction because I could not prove the degree of reasonable fear that I faced. Thank you Gov. Scott and the elected GOP members that have upheld my rights.


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