Is self-defense always a defense? | Oct. 17
Self-defense a fundamental right
Arthur Hayhoe is wrong when he says that Florida's "stand your ground" law turns Florida into the Wild West. Just the opposite is true. The reason that justifiable homicides are increasing is simple. Florida abandoned the old "duty to retreat" standards that placed an unfair burden on the victim, who had to make an instant decision when confronted with imminent death or great bodily harm. The victim could very well turn and run, but at serious risk to his/her successful self-defense.
The "duty to retreat" became a legal interpretation in each case of self-defense, a difficult task, at best, and discouraged such actions. The new "stand your ground" law properly expands legal defenses in all places where a person has a right to be, thereby increasing the number of "justifiable homicides." In addition, the number of law-abiding citizens with concealed carry licenses has been growing in leaps and bounds, empowering more citizens to stand up to criminal attack. There are now over 760,000 valid concealed carry licenses issued by the state of Florida.
The U.S. Supreme Court recognized that there was no duty to retreat in Beard vs. United States (1895). In Brown vs. United States (1921), Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. noted that "detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife."
Self-defense is an inherent and fundamental human right. The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms directly supports that concept, and enables all law-abiding citizens to embrace both rights. Citizens who cannot legally act to protect their life, personal safety or property without fear of prosecution are merely wards of the government and can never be truly free.
Lee Hanson, Hudson
Is self-defense always a defense? | Oct. 17
There appears to be an anti-"stand your ground" bias in this front-page article. The writers clearly seem to view "stand your ground" as a uniformly negative thing, highlighting 65 deaths in 93 cases without indicating that in a number of these cases innocent lives were saved.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement recently announced that statewide crime in 2009 was the lowest in 39 years. It is certainly possible, if not likely, that some portion of the reduction in crime is due to the fact that criminals must now consider that there are more citizens with concealed carry permits or legal weapons in their homes who will stand their ground and defend themselves and others.
FDLE's Uniform Crime Reports reveal that between 2007 and 2009 (the last full statistical year) statewide murders by firearm fell from 1,202 to 1,168 to 1,017; forcible rapes from 6,145 to 5,962 to 5,494; and aggravated assaults by firearm from 81,253 to 77,849 to 71,290.
John Hales, St. Petersburg
Jim Norman ruling
Facts speak for themselves
I fail to understand the misconception by many who have commented on the Jim Norman case that Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford, by disqualifying Norman, was somehow violating the will of the electorate and that Norman won the state Senate District 12 primary "fair and square."
Fulford is a duly recognized "finder of fact," therefore, the fact is, Jim Norman did not win the primary fairly. Important information about Norman's background and financial affiliations were not disclosed to voters, as required by law.
The financial disclosure laws are not arbitrary, bureaucratic paperwork, but rather information that we, the people, deemed important enough to enact, with consequences. With the facts of the case now public record, it is clear that Jim Norman benefitted from a half-million-dollar gift. That is information that makes the votes cast for Norman in the primary irrelevant.
The local Republican leadership should not consider for a moment allowing Norman to be reappointed to run.
Kevin Ambler, as the only vote-getting, qualified candidate, who followed all of the election laws, should be the Republican candidate for Florida Senate, District 12. That would be "fair and square."
Paul Grossman, Tampa
Amendments 5 and 6
For sensible districts
I'm writing in support of Amendments 5 and 6 to our state Constitution that would create commonsense rules in legislative and congressional redistricting.
When I was in the Florida Senate in the early 1990s, I opposed similar measures because I believed it was possible for the Legislature to redistrict without undue partisanship. I was wrong. I was in the room that housed the computers and data banks used in the redistricting effort when individual senators would direct staff to draw boundary lines in various configurations for the express purpose of affecting the partisan makeup of the district.
The result was that the boundaries of many districts had little relation to worthy concepts such as cohesion, and often didn't respect natural geographic features and the boundaries of existing political entities.
Even though I saw this happening, I stood behind the principle that legislators would be judged by their constituents for such gerrymandering. They weren't. I can't think of a single legislator who ran in one of the severely gerrymandered districts who didn't win.
Amendments 5 and 6 would impose the discipline needed to redistrict in a way that creates state legislative and congressional districts that make common sense. I intend to vote for them, and I encourage you to do likewise.
Rick Dantzler, Winter Haven
Marco Rubio proposes the "fix" to the potential Social Security deficit is to either cut back on benefits and/or raise the retirement age for those age 55 and under. Rubio is under the impression those of us 55 and under will have time to plan and to work past the age of our promised retirement and collection of Social Security.
Well, we do not have that time. Not the majority of us quickly approaching 55. I am nearing 54. When I grew up it was with the promise I could receive full Social Security benefits at age 65. Then in 1983, I was told my promise was on hold until I reached 66.3 years of age.
Rubio loves to talk about his humble beginnings. Well, I'm still humble and a long way into even more humble times. Be sure to answer me politely when I ask "paper or plastic" in my golden years.
Julie Watts, St. Petersburg