The much ballyhooed efforts to repeal the Stand Your Ground law in Florida have suffered an ignominious and well-deserved death.
An enormous and bi-partisan majority of Florida legislators —72%– this week overwhelmingly declined to hold a special session for the purpose of even debating the repeal of SYG.
In the aftermath of the Zimmerman acquittal (Zimmerman Verdict Reached: NOT GUILTY) there was an inevitable outcry from certain quarters for the repeal of Stand-Your-Ground laws, as well as threats to boycott Florida unless the state repeals SYG (ironically, and tellingly, such boycott threats often come from out-of-state politicians seemingly unaware that their own state is itself a SYG jurisdiction).
Such calls for repeal of SYG had the benefit of favorable amplification and endless repetition through the mainstream media, but even with that advantage only weeks later we can see that these calls amounted to little more than expedient political theater. This past week’s decision on the matter by the Florida legislature shows clearly how little appetite really exists to diminish the legal protections of law-abiding armed citizens in order to increase the safety for thugs launching felonious attacks against those citizens.
This past Tuesday the Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner informed Florida governor Rick Scott that there was utterly inadequate support for a special session that was to be devoted to repeal of the state’s SYG law. Such a special session required the support of 96 of Florida’s 159 legislators. It was instead supported by a mere 47, fewer than half the required number. Indeed, a large majority of legislators—108, including 7 Democrats, or 72% of the legislature—voted against the special session. SYG laws in other states enjoy similar levels of popular and legislative support.
Indeed, the highlighting of SYG laws by those who wish to diminish the legal rights of law-abiding gun owners in deference to criminals may turn out to backfire on proponents of repeal. Prior to these initiatives few people were likely to know whether their state was one of minority of 17 that impose a generalized duty to retreat or among the large majority of 33 states that allow their innocent citizens to instead prioritize defending themselves and their families against a deadly attack.
The simple fact is that the clear majority of American voters support the SYG approach that is more favorable to the law-abiding citizen and less favorable to the criminal.
A Quinnipiac poll conducted earlier this month shows that supporters of SYG laws vastly outnumber opponents, 53% to 40% respectively, among American voters.
It is notable that this polling result comes after more than a year of anti-SYG propaganda and disinformation being spewed by the mainstream media and as well as by particularly high-profile racial activists, in an environment in which the pro-SYG arguments are left all but silent. In an active legislative debate with both sides of the issue presented it is all but certain that support for SYG will only grow, as reflected in the outcome this week in the Florida legislature.
Of course, with opposition to SYG laws being favored by black voters 57% to 37%, the issue will remain fertile and profitable ground for racial politics.
Overall, however, to the extent that the issue of SYG is raised in the public consciousness it seems likely to strengthen support of the SYG protections favoring the law-abiding armed citizen against deadly force attacks. Indeed, several states that currently lack SYG are seeing SYG legislation introduced, including Maryland, Ohio.
Here’s hoping we can whittle down those 17 “duty to retreat” states to the low single-digits (there’s no sense hoping for 100% SYG states, some are simply beyond saving).
Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer in his third decade of practice, an attorney member of the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network, and a Guest Instructor on the Law of Self Defense at the Sig Sauer Academy. He is the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition”.
Andrew conducts Law of Self Defense Seminars all around the country, and he has also launched a series of LOSD State-Specific Supplements that dive deep into every relevant statute, jury instruction, and court case that defines the law of self-defense in a particular state.