Jeb Bush signed a bill into law Tuesday that supporters say lets citizens take back their rights from criminals. The new law allows people to shoot intruders who break into homes, cars, even RVs, and it also lets you use deadly force to fight back if you’re attacked on the street.
But opponents fear the new law will return Florida to the days of the Wild West.
The new law lets you shoot intruders without fear of prosecution or lawsuits. Former National Rifle Association President Marion Hammer was the driving force behind the bill and was on hand when Jeb Bush signed it into law.
“I really like the part of the bill that says criminals can’t sue law-abiding people who cause them harm when they’re in the process of committing a crime against them. It’s about time we did that.”
The new law assumes anyone illegally entering someone’s property, whether it’s a trailer or even a neighbor’s home, is there to cause trouble and you’re justified in shooting. The law also allows you to use deadly force if you’re confronted on the street. Under the old law, you had a duty to retreat.
Jeb Bush says changing the law is the right thing to do.
“If there’s a life-threatening situation, to have to retreat, put yourself in a very precarious situation, defies common sense.”
But the handful of people who voted against the bill fear it could turn Florida’s streets into the shootout at the OK Corral. Rep. Ken Gottlieb says it sends the wrong message.
“You’re going to have fights, you’re going to have set-ups, and it’s just going to be a horrible way to handle things in a civilized society.”
But supporters point to Florida’s falling crime rate since the concealed-carry law passed, and they believe this use of force law will be another reason for criminals to think twice.
Arthur Hayhoe with the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence says he’s disappointed the governor signed the bill into law. He says the bill is going to put innocent bystanders at risk and open the door for deadly cases of mistaken identity. The use of force bill takes effect October 1.