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Florida politicians back use of deadly force

CBC News | April 5, 2005

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. - The governor of Florida is being asked to sign a measure that will allow people in that state to use "deadly force" to protect themselves at home or in their car.

The bill "authorizes a person to use force, including deadly force, against an intruder or attacker in a dwelling, residence, or vehicle under certain circumstances," the state legislature says on its website.

The Florida House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday. The state Senate has already approved it, so all it lacks before becoming law is the signature of Gov. Jeb Bush.

Among other provisions, the bill:
Creates a presumption that residents are reasonable to fear that an intruder has broken in to hurt or kill them.
Allows the use of deadly force.
Declares that a person does not have to retreat from an intruder.
A backer of the bill, Representative Dennis Baxley, said it gives people the right to defend themselves without having to worry about the legal consequences. That will discourage criminals, he added.

The National Rifle Association, which supports the bill, said it "corrects a serious problem for citizens who choose to protect themselves in the face of attack by violent criminals."

The bill reverses the doctrine that people have a "'duty to retreat' (leave your property and RUN) when attacked" which was established by Florida courts, the group said on its website.

Critics say the bill will turn the state into the Wild West.

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