Is FL Gov. right to allow businesses to shoot rioters and looters?
Florida is right to allow businesses to shoot rioters and looters in a proposed new expansion of its 'Stand Your Ground,' or right to self-defense, statute. Governor DeSantis characterized his anti-mob legislation as the 'strongest pro-law enforcement, anti-rioting, anti-looting legislation anywhere in the country.' Florida's proposed new laws are designed to deter looting and anarchy and represent a change from the liberal-governed states' approach to turning a blind eye as their urban areas were under siege. As President Trump put it: 'The terrorists burn and pillage our cities, and they think it is just wonderful, even the death.'
Perhaps the most notorious example of the failure of political leadership to maintain law and order in the face of anarchy was the sad spectacle that occurred in Seattle in June, where Democrat Mayor Jenny Durkan allowed protesters to occupy a six-block section of the city known as CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest), close a police precinct, and refuse entry to first responders. Durkan's abdication of her mayoral duties led to weeks of mayhem, destruction, and two deaths.
The Insurance Information Institute estimates that the cost of the widespread looting, arson, and vandalism that occurred in more than 20 states following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in May, could amount to $2 billion. Looters need to know that there may be extreme consequences for their criminal actions and that society will not abide by such anti-social behavior. Florida's legislation is a step in the direction of restoring law and order during these chaotic times.
It is morally reprehensible for Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, to encourage extrajudicial killings by ordinary citizens under the guise of defending private property. In America, we do not allow ordinary citizens to kill others, except in very few circumstances such as states with so-called Stand Your Ground Laws. These laws are designed to cover homeowners who may defensively kill an intruder--they are not intended to allow ordinary individuals to become vigilantes defending lifeless goods in a storefront. While Stand Your Ground Laws are somewhat controversial, it should be abundantly clear to the DeSantis administration that no one needs to die over a pair of sneakers. Further, DeSantis' explanation of when force is allowed--when there has been an 'interruption or impairment' of a business--is entirely too vague and gives too much power to untrained gun owners. Surely 'interrupting' a business, one of the core tactics of protests, shouldn't be legal grounds to die at the hands of an ordinary citizen.
Rather than adding fuel to the fire of an already volatile protest situation, DeSantis should be looking at the many ways to de-escalate the situation and, failing that, encourage businesses to harden security measures. By listening to protestors and working with them on their demands, rather than threatening to allow anyone with a gun to shoot them, the DeSantis administration could end months of unrest in his state and accelerate racial justice. Sadly, his administration seems to favor the exact type of extrajudicial killings that have brought about the protests in the first place.
- Ron DeSantis is Florida’s 46th governor. Before his election in 2018, he served in the US House of the 6th Congressional District in Florida.
- There are self defense or Stand Your Ground laws in at least 25 states in the US, with 15 of them stating explicit language to “stand his or her ground.”
- Florida was the first state to establish a Stand Your Ground law under Governor Jeb Bush on October 1, 2005.
- On November 11, Florida Gov. DeSantis drafted an expansion to the current Stand Your Ground laws “that would allow armed citizens to shoot and possibly kill anyone they suspect of rioting or looting.”