Update: 4 years later, an update.
The first provision is that a person is “presumed” to have a reasonable fear of imminent bodily harm or death if certain conditions are met. Traditionally, this imminent danger was left to the jury to decide. The most controversial part of this bill is
(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.
So basically, it does away with the “duty to retreat” which says that if you can avoid physical harm by retreating, unless you are in your home or place of work, then you must make reasonable attempts to do so.
I’m not quite sure I understand the last part “or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony”. What is a forcible felony? Aren’t all felonies (atleast the regular ones – robbery, assault, larceny) forcible? So one can use deadly force to prevent a purse-snatcher from getting away? That could be a forcible felony if a person is shoved to the ground, and their purse/wallet taken which contains $2000 in cash. It’s a little troublesome.
It is good to see that FL’s lawmakers haven’t extended the right to use deadly force in self-defense against “regular” force – force that doesn’t present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury.
By comparision, CT’s self-defense statute requires the duty to retreat.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, a person is not justified in using deadly physical force upon another person if he knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety (1) by retreating, except that the actor shall not be required to retreat if he is in his dwelling, as defined in section 53a-100, or place of work and was not the initial aggressor, or if he is a peace officer or a private person assisting such peace officer at his direction, and acting pursuant to section 53a-22, or (2) by surrendering possession of property to a person asserting a claim of right thereto, or (3) by complying with a demand that he abstain from performing an act which he is not obliged to perform.
The duty to retreat, although it might sound rather ridiculous, is rooted in good intentions. The purpose of that duty is to prevent people from assaulting each other, when the situation could easily have been prevented. It may very well be impossible to do in a lot of situations, but the statute provides for that as well. It requires that a person retreat “if he knows that he can avoid the necessity of force with complete safety”. Maybe it is an ideological fantasy, but it’s better to have it than to permit people to start shooting one another in the middle of a street.