A new proposal that allows business owners to defend their property during a violent riot is coming under fire from Democrats.
This idea was floated as part of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ recently proposed “Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.” Under the proposed act, Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute would be amended.
Under current law the “Stand Your Ground” statute states, “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
DeSantis’ new proposed amendment to the statute expands the definition of “forcible felony” to include, “criminal mischief that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; arson that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; and any other felony . . . .”
As of Friday, the “Combatting Violence” proposal was still a draft and no formal bills were filed in either the Florida House or Senate. However, according to AP reports, incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson and Sarasota Republican state Sen. Joe Gruters both said they were interested in the proposal. They have not yet said whether they will sponsor a bill supporting it.
On the other hand, Democrat legislators, attorneys and others call DeSantis’ proposal “racist,” “dangerous” and “extreme.”
In a recent Miami Herald article, Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County County prosecutor who had handled “Stand Your Ground” cases said, “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”
In the same article, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said the governor’s draft bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”
Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy condemned DeSantis’ proposals in a press release put out by Florida Senate Democrats, “We cannot allow death to be the punishment for a property crime because we do not live in a lawless society.”
He continued, “His proposals to ‘crack down on protests’ will only fuel racial unrest and violence, not dampen them. “
Kenneth Nunn, a law professor at the University of Florida and assistant director of its Criminal Justice Center, told NBC News explicitly linking “Stand Your Ground” to what happens at demonstrations is “reactionary to extreme.”
“Like the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law generally, it reduces public safety in exchange for a crass political attempt to pit one segment of the population against another,” Nunn said.
Additional proposals in the “Combatting Violence Act” are here.