Critics of Florida’s so-called Stand-Your-Ground law are using the recent verdict in the “loud music” murder trial as basis to propose a change to the state’s gun policies.
Michael Dunn was convicted Saturday on three counts of second-degree attempted murder in the 2012 death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn, 47, is white, while Davis was black.
The jury, however, did not reach a verdict on Dunn’s first-degree murder charge, resulting in a mistrial on that count.
“This law, all too often, has been used to justify racial profiling and embolden people to engage in unnecessary, confrontational behavior,” Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida said in a statement on Saturday. “We wholeheartedly believe that this heinous law should be repealed.”
The current Stand-Your-Ground law gives individuals the right to use deadly force to defend themselves without retreating from potentially harmful situations.
Dunn allegedly fired multiple rounds at Davis and his friends, after fighting with them about music coming from their SUV in a Jacksonville, Fla., parking lot. Jurors on Saturday found Dunn guilty on one charge of shooting into an occupied vehicle in addition to the murder attempts.
Dunn, a software engineer who has a concealed-weapons permit, said he felt threatened when he thought he saw a gun emerge from a window of the SUV. Police didn’t find any weapons inside the vehicle.
Florida State Rep. Dennis Baxley, who sponsored the Stand-Your-Ground bill in 2005, said no one made it a defense in the Dunn case; rather, he said, it is an issue of being prosecuted and brought to trial.
“The Dunn case is not a Stand-Your-Ground case. People misunderstand this self-protection law. It applies only to the issue of whether someone should be prosecuted or not,” Baxley, a Republican, told msnbc.
“This discussion in this case still assures me that I need to be very cautious about anything that would diminish the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves from violence,” Baxley added. “It doesn’t mean that when you have difficult cases to resolve that there is something wrong with the legislation.”
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