'Stand your ground' law likely to be debated
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A state Supreme Court ruling requiring "stand your ground" defendants to prove their innocence has the National Rifle Association hopping mad. The decision will likely result in state lawmakers getting involved.
The NRA says the court decision will have a chilling effect on people willing to protect themselves or their families, saying people will be afraid of being charged with a crime and may hesitate when danger is imminent.
It was Christmas 2011 when a car nearly ran an Indiana family off the road on its way to Disneyworld. Jared Breatherick made a frantic 911 call.
"He stopped in the middle of the road and won't move his vehicle," Breatherick is heard saying on the call.
When the other driver approached, Breatherick held up his holstered gun, and the driver backed off. That driver made his own 911 call.
"He has a gun pointed to me on the back of my car," the man says in the 911 call.
The Supreme Court has now upheld Breatherick being charged with aggravated assault. The court also ruled it was up to Breatherick to prove he was entitled to "stand your ground" immunity, not prosecutors to prove he wasn't. The NRA said the decision is an assault on Second Amendment rights.
"Under our system of justice, you are innocent until the state proves you guilty," said Marion Hammer, of the NRA. "They have reversed that. If you protect yourself and your family against the criminal, you are now guilty until proven innocent."
Lawmakers are almost certain to get involved in coming months with legislation that will clarify or minimize what the court has done.
State Rep. Alan Williams said the ruling is an opportunity for lawmakers to scrap "stand your ground" and start over.
"There are provisions of the law that allow aggressors to get away with murder, so I want us to repeal it and start over, so hopefully this is our opportunity," Williams said.
Legislation, if filed, could reignite the "stand your ground" battle as early as September.
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