Sunday, June 17, 2018
News Roundup

Sue Carlton: Gov. Rick Scott should veto confusing 'warning shot' bill

Three words on the "warning shot'' legislation about to hit the governor's desk: What a mess.

It doesn't matter whether you favor Florida's controversial "stand your ground'' law or think it dangerous. The most recent tweak to it from Tallahassee has something for everyone.

For starters, there's the potential weakening of the law even though legislators who voted "yay" surely intended to expand it. There's also, as always, a nifty gift or two for the powerful gun lobby, like the part about expunging court records in "stand your ground'' cases.

Hopefully, there's enough confusion written in —- heck, even the legislator who originally drafted "stand your ground'' is having doubts — to give Gov. Rick Scott serious pause before signing.

The law that polarized us over the infamous shooting death of an unarmed black teenager was up for changes during the legislative session — including a well-intended one in the name of Marissa Alexander of Jacksonville, sentenced to 20 years for firing what she said was a warning shot in an altercation with her estranged husband. This does seem striking when you consider no one was hit — and Trayvon Martin is dead, and George Zimmerman a free man.

A judge declined to grant Alexander "stand your ground'' immunity and a jury convicted her in 12 minutes. She has since won a new trial because of jury instruction problems.

But the idea that someone who claimed she was standing her ground and did not shoot anyone could get that kind of prison time stuck with legislators.

Somehow, the effort to tweak "stand your ground'' to protect those who fire legitimate warning shots or threaten force got twisted in the final version awaiting the governor's pen. It appears, in certain circumstances, to add a requirement that the person who uses deadly force reasonably believed it necessary to prevent not just death or great bodily harm, but "imminent" death or great bodily harm. As in, something just about to happen to them. Which would seem to narrow the law rather than expand its protection.

Now, if you are someone who already believed that "stand your ground'' was unnecessary, that self-defense already worked in Florida and that this swag for the National Rifle Association has been applied unevenly across the state since, maybe you don't object to the addition of "imminent."

But this bill is almost dizzyingly written. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri — a lawyer, by the way, who generally supports "stand your ground'' protections with some exceptions — called it confusing even for people who regularly deal with this. "Legislation should be direct. It should be straightforward," Gualtieri told me. "It should be easily understood so people will know what the rules are."

This law would also allow the expunging of court records when charges are dropped in "stand your ground'' cases, alarming to those of us who believe the public record ought to be both complete and, well, public.

Now it's up to Scott. And in the thick of a tough re-election battle against Charlie Crist, it's politically dicey for him to veto anything with the fighting words "stand your ground" attached. But rejecting legislation that confuses an already intensely complex issue seems a no-brainer, no matter where you stand on "stand your ground.''

Comments
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administrationís move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.Itís also...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

Motorcyclist and pedestrian die in Pasco crash

NEW PORT RICHEY ó A motorcyclist and pedestrian both died in a crash Saturday night near Palmetto Road and U.S. 19, police reported.About 10:30 p.m., a St. Petersburg man, 41, was riding a 2012 Honda motorcycle north on the highway, according to the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking to avoid a four-game sweep

UPDATE, 11:37: Interesting decision by the Rays to move Adames to 2B today and reinstall Hechavarria at SS as he came off DL following Arroyo injury.Here is the Rays lineup:Duffy 3bBauers 1bRamos cCron dhAdames 2bHechavarria ssGomez rfRefsnyder lfFie...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

Chicago soldier killed in Korea finally being laid to rest

CHICAGO — Not long after her father went missing during the Korean War, Carol Elkin spotted then-Gen. Dwight Eisenhower in downtown Chicago and did what any kid might do when coming face to face with the nation’s most famous soldier: She ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

TRENTON, N.J ó Shooting broke out at an all-night art festival in Trenton, New Jersey, early Sunday, sending people stampeding from the scene and leaving one suspect dead and 20 people injured, a local prosecutor said. Many of the 20 injured were tre...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

Peering into the crystal baseball to see what Rays could look like in 2019

The Rays are still talking, as they should, about playing for something this season. The reality is that almost every move they've made, going back to the end of last season, and in some cases further, has been about 2019 and beyond.Clearing out vete...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

Rays lose again to Yankees, this time 4-1

NEW YORK — Kevin Cash was not going to go all Lou Piniella on his Rays, raging and ripping and roaring over their latest mess, a 4-1 Saturday loss to the Yankees that didn't feel that close.Which is too bad because Piniella, the volcanic former...
Published: 06/16/18

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Sun., June 17, midday:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxSun., June 17, evening:xx xxx xxxxe_SRitxxxxxFantasy 5Sunday...
Published: 06/16/18
Hurricane Maria family resettles in Riverview, only to be left homeless by lightning strike

Hurricane Maria family resettles in Riverview, only to be left homeless by lightning strike

RIVERVIEW — It was the most routine of errands, shopping for a cooler and some shorts. Joel Jaca and Arelys Gomez, both 40, had turned an important corner, miles away from hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. They had finally gotten out of their re...
Published: 06/16/18

Published: 06/16/18