Ridiculous coverage of Florida's new self defense law
LEIGH SALES: Mark and his mates were out one night, playing doorknocking pranks. Jay Levin was one of their targets. He was home alone and heard noises outside, imagining it was a burglar. He opened his front door, gun in hand, just as Mark was running away. In panic, Jay Levin shot Mark Drewes in the back, killing him.
Mr Levin was charged with manslaughter because under Florida's old laws, that level of force was considered excessive.
But this week, the law changed, and today, Mr Levin would be innocent of any wrongdoing.
The coverage is outrageous and I doubt that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will bother getting their story correct, but in any case I sent an email to them at email@example.com:
Your story on "Florida widens right to use deadly force" was extremely inaccurate and completely misstated Florida's law on self defense. There is still a "reasonable person" standard for whether a reasonable person would view themselves as being in danger. You can only engage in responses that are commensurate to the danger that you face. Shooting someone in the back who was running away would not be viewed as a reasonable response. Someone has to be actively threatened to use a gun in self defense. For example, is the attacker pointing a weapon at you or charging you. What the new Florida law changed was whether you must also first retreat between you may use self defense.
John R. Lott, Jr.
American Enterprise Institute