The split decision by a sharply divided jury in Florida’s latest high-profile self-defense trial is prompting renewed calls for a review of the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, while legal analysts try to make sense of the jury’s decision, Reuters reports. Michael Dunn, a 47-year-old software engineer, was convicted on Saturday on three counts of attempted murder for opening fire on a car of black teenagers during an argument over loud rap music in November 2012. The jury could not reach a verdict on a murder charge for killing one of the passengers.
Civil rights groups and some legislators are urging a review of Florida’s self-defense statute, saying it has created a license to kill for gun owners who hate or fear young black men. “We can’t ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room. At the end of the day, if the race roles were reversed in both instances, there would be a full-on repeal,” said state Senator Dwight Bullard. Their chances may be slim: Gun rights activists, backed by a Republican-controlled legislature, say things are fine. State Rep. Dennis Baxley, a Republican who sponsored the law in 2005, said critics misunderstand the law’s intent, saying the statute has been used in hundreds of unheralded cases by black defendants citing their self-defense rights. “This narrative that says white people are tracking black people down and murdering them is just not true,” he said.