Warning that Florida streets have the potential to become the O.K. Corral, gun-control advocates will launch an international campaign to alert travelers about a new state law that allows people to use deadly force in self-defense, reports the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. On Saturday it will become legal to use force on an attacker without first trying to escape the confrontation. Supporters say the measure, which they dub the “Stand Your Ground” law, allows residents to protect themselves by meeting force with force. Opponents, who call it the “Shoot First Law,” warn it could hand itchy trigger fingers a license to kill.
“It’s a particular risk faced by travelers coming to Florida for a vacation because they have no idea it’s going to be the law of the land,” said Peter Hamm, communications director of the Washington, D.C.-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “If they get into a road rage argument, the other person may feel he has the right to use deadly force.” In a flier the group plans to pass out at Miami International Airport and possibly Orlando International Airport, tourists will be admonished to take precautions that include: “Do not argue unnecessarily with local people.” Newspapers ads, billboards and the Internet will also be used to spread the word. Championed by the National Rifle Association, the law makes it legal for someone to use deadly force against anyone who unlawfully or forcefully enters their home or car — even if they are not being attacked.