See this guy? It's Michael David Dunn. Remember that name.
Because you're going to see it again.
Dunn is the guy who, after an argument last year over loud music, opened fire on an SUV parked next to his car at a Jacksonville gas station. He fired at the Dodge Durango repeatedly with a 9mm pistol, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis, one of four teenagers inside.
Dunn claims he feared for his life.
You might have guessed where this is going.
Dunn's defense attorney has made noises about invoking Florida's "stand your ground" law. And you know what? He might have a case.
Because "stand your ground" in Florida has a low bar.
You can't be engaged in unlawful activity (Dunn wasn't, at least before he started shooting); you're attacked in a place where you have the right to be (he was at a public place); and you have to "reasonably" believe your life is in danger (Dunn says he feared for his life because he saw someone in the SUV wield a gun, though cops never found one).
Michael David Dunn is why Florida must revisit this travesty of a law. This national embarrassment.
"Stand your ground" is providing cover to all manner of wrongdoers, many of them documented in an exhaustive Tampa Bay Times report last year. People who went looking for a fight, killed unarmed people, even chased down their victims.
We understand that George Zimmerman didn't use a "stand your ground" defense in his trial for the death of Trayvon Martin, though the law did delay his arrest.
But what advocates have often omitted in their impassioned defense of the law is that "stand your ground's" central precept — that people who are attacked have no duty to retreat — is now infused into the standard jury instructions for self-defense cases.
The instruction to Zimmerman's jury contained this language:
"If George Zimmerman was not engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
No wonder the juror who spoke with CNN's Anderson Cooper invoked the "stand your ground" phrase more than once, including this exchange:
COOPER: "Because of the only, the two options you had, second-degree murder or manslaughter, you felt neither applied?"
JUROR: "Right. Well, because of the heat of the moment and the stand your ground. He had a right to defend himself. If he felt threatened that his life was going to be taken away from him or he was going to have bodily harm, he had a right."
The 2005 law's author, state Sen. David Simmons, has argued on these pages before that "stand your ground" didn't apply to this case. But at least one juror appears not to have gotten that message.
Simmons and others say the law is intended to protect "innocent victims." But it requires a vivid imagination to describe some of those who have gotten off are either innocent or victims.
We are under no illusions that Florida will repeal this law any time soon. Gov. Rick Scott went through the motions of convening a task force — headed by a now-departed lieutenant governor and stacked with "stand your ground" supporters — which concluded that most everything was fine.
Even modest, common-sense tweaks introduced in the Legislature earlier this year went nowhere, so cowed are lawmakers by the National Rifle Association.
Where does that leave Florida? We're the epicenter of national scorn for a law that encourages violence and gives legal cover to thugs. We're also the target of a growing movement to boycott the state, not exactly a pro-business proposition.
If state lawmakers won't repeal "stand your ground," they must at least discover some sense of reason and fix its most flagrant flaws, which even some supporters concede are present in the law.
Otherwise, we can expect to see more guys like Michael David Dunn believing Florida law might protect them after shooting up an SUV filled with unarmed teens.Copyright © 2015, CT Now