A bill that got a nod of approval from the Florida state Senate this week would make sure those defending themselves in their home or car could fight back without fear of being prosecuted themselves.
Mary Zanders, a Tallahassee resident, says, "I think we have a right to defend ourselves, because if an intruder comes in your house, they're not coming in for any good."
Mary Zanders and residents throughout Florida got backup from lawmakers this week with something they call the “castle doctrine,” a bill that unanimously passed the state Senate. It allows victims of home break-ins and robberies, as well as carjackings, to use deadly force against their assailants without fear of being prosecuted themselves.
Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association says, "No state attorney with 20-20 hindsight ought to be telling you that you should have run instead of protecting yourself and your family."
There are few critics of the legislation. Rep. Curtis Richardson says he fully supports the idea of protecting one's home and safety, but does have some concerns about extending that concept into the streets.
Rep. Curtis Richardson, (D) Tallahassee, says, "I certainly don't want to, want the Legislature to give citizens of the state of Florida the impression that we're going back to the wild, wild west days and people can just use deadly force."
Mary Zanders says, "I think that bill should be passed for homeowners and people who lives along and stuff, because the intruder has more rights than you does."
This bill has passed the Senate, but it is still up for debate in the House. It applies to occupied homes and hotel rooms, but not to businesses.
State attorney Willie Meggs says acts of self defense are already covered by law, and he worries that this law could be abused and manipulated to try to cover up real crimes.
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