“Thinking about a Florida vacation?” says the ad. “A new law in the Sunshine State authorizes nervous or frightened residents to use deadly force.” Ads, fliers, billboards, and a Web site are part of a campaign by a national gun control group to warn visitors about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that takes effect Saturday, reports the St. Petersburg Times.The law gives broad legal protections to a person who is attacked at home, or “any other place where he or she has a right to be,” and removes a common-law duty to retreat in the face of attack. A person being attacked will have “the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force,” not only at home but in public places.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says its goal is to alert travelers, not scare off tourists who are vital to the state’s economy. “We think it’s reasonable to tell people that they should avoid passionate confrontations when they come to Florida,” said Peter Hamm, the Brady campaign’s communications director. “This was a dangerous solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. The jails are not full of people who acted in self-defense. This crosses the line of reasonableness.” Prompted by the National Rifle Association, Florida lawmakers passed the bill with strong bipartisan support. Gov. Jeb Bush this week called it “a good, common-sense piece of legislation.” Bush points to a steady drop in Florida’s crime rate, but only South Carolina had a higher rate of violent crime than Florida in 2003, say FBI figures. Fresh from its Florida victory, the NRA is pushing a similar bill in Michigan, where the Brady campaign is mounting opposition.