Florida’s misnamed “Stand your Ground” law and the term “Castle Doctrine”.

OK, I think it may be time for some education and clarification on the history and use of Florida’s misnamed “Stand your Ground” law and the term “Castle Doctrine”.

First a little history, how did Florida’s “Justifiable Use of Force” statute, Chapter 776 in the Florida State Statutes, become referred to as the Florida “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) law? Why if those words do not appear in the statute do we keep hearing it referred to as that?

Well, you must go back to when the law was being debated on the floor of the Florida Legislature prior to being passed. Prior to 2005, Florida residents already had the right to use deadly force to defend themselves, but they had to prove they could not have escaped the threat. Basically, requiring them to try and run away, or be cornered and not able to before they could use deadly force to defend their own lives. A terrible way to live and putting people at the mercy of violent criminals. In a quote from a 2005 article (https://wapo.st/2LJzEio) on the law being considered Rep. Dan Gelber is quoted as saying “”It’s almost like a duel clause” and “People ought to have to walk away if they can.” Meaning that if you did not retreat from a threat, you cannot use force to defend your life.

The press needed something to call the law that had negative connotations to it and they figured that something uttered by an opponent to the law at the time, was a good choice. It makes the law sound like, as it was also referred to, as a “dueling” law. When it is nothing of the sort.

Something of interest from back then also is this little tidbit from the same article “Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist, a leading candidate for the Republican governor’s nomination in 2006, was among those who wrote letters of support.” So back then Ole Charlie was a Republican and in favor of the Self defense rights of Floridians. What happened to Charlie?

In a CBS article dated April 26th, 2005 (https://cbsn.ws/2LKU5f1), CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen said: “It says to people: You can stand your ground and if you feel reasonably threatened that harm is going to come to you, you can fire away.” This is the first reference to the term “Stand your ground” that can be found in the press. The term caught on and the bill and law were forever after referred to by the anti-self-defense rights as the Florida “Stand your ground law”, even though the words in the text of the bill is “stand his or her ground” and only a small part of the statute.

The term “stand your ground” is a huge disservice to the statute that allows a person to defend themselves, wherever they have a legal right to be, without having to run away or flee first, or try to flee. There are several parts to the law and the ability to defend yourself is not bound by location and should not be.

So where did the term “Castle Doctrine” come from? Well, that now the famous term that describes the ability to defend your home (and in Florida your vehicle or other places you are residing or occupying). Several studies try and show that the original reference to “castle” refers to English common law rules protecting a person’s home and the phrase “one’s home is one’s castle.” It is also reported the actual coining of the phrase “Castle Doctrine” to refer to Florida’s and now other states similar laws came from none other than our very own 2nd Amendment rights supporter, Marion Hammer! The Washington Post article I used above for some quotes also states that the Florida bill was given the name the “castle doctrine” by Florida lobbyist Marion P. Hammer, a former National Rifle Association president.

But in researching the actual 2005 Bill that was submitted we find that the drafters of the bill wrote the following in the preamble of the bill; “WHEREAS, the castle doctrine is a common-law doctrine of ancient origins which declares that a person’s home is his or her castle, and…” so in reality the first reference to it being called the “Castle Doctrine” law was written in the preamble of the law itself. (http://laws.flrules.org/files/Ch_2005-027.pdf)

What has happened is that the law repeatedly being called these terms has diluted the true meaning and understanding of the law by the public, and they have no clue what the law really says or actually means. They now believe the media’s portrayal of the law and have never even bothered to read the law. Maybe now understanding where those terms come from and why people might want to learn more about the law that allows them to defend themselves and not have to flee criminals. A basic human right that should not even have to be written into law, but as humans we have this tendency to do just that, have to write down common sense to make sure those without it can read it. (http://bit.ly/2Lzis2g)

If you are going to rely on a law for your safety and that of your family, maybe you might want to actually read it, and not base your knowledge on the media and biased reports by those who want you to have to run away when threatened by a criminal.

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