The jury is still out on whether Michael Dunn committed first-degree murder when he shot and killed Jordan Davis at a Florida gas station over a beef about loud music. But with three people needlessly dead in Florida at the hands of gun-toting vigilantes, it’s time to consider what Ohio can learn from a state that has become the new wild west.
First lesson: Don’t go to Florida, unless you want to get shot to death for texting, walking, or playing loud music, especially if you’re young and black.
More to the point, Ohioans should pause to consider, with the trigger on safety, how further relaxing gun laws can put everyone at risk.
Having once, in another state, obtained a CCW permit, I’m not opposed to such licenses in Ohio. But a gun can cause a lot problems, especially if the person packing is unstable.
Whatever the jury decides on the fate of 47-year-old Michael Dunn, the death of Jordan Davis was unnecessary and, therefore, all the more tragic. So was the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot to death by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who was following Martin, a young black man in a hoodie, because he looked "suspicious" in the gated residential neighborhood.
Craziest of all was the killing of Navy veteran Chad Oulson, who was shot in a Florida movie theater by Curtis Reeves, a 71-year-old retired Tampa police captain. It’s not clear if texting during the previews or a dispute over a box of popcorn triggered Oulson’s death.
Is this lunacy the logical extension of a gun culture on steroids?
Ohioans should remember these cases when considering an unnecessary bill that would vastly expand the circumstances in which a person has no duty to retreat before using lethal force in self defense. The bill, Ohio's version of stand-your-ground, would extend certain immunities, without cause and with great risk, to anywhere a person has a legal right to be.
Approved by the Ohio House of Representatives in November, the bill could embolden people and encourage violence. At least one study, by Texas A&M, found higher rates of reported murders and non-negligent manslaughters in states with stand-your-ground laws.
It’s not uncommon for people to overreact to potential danger, especially when making split-second decisions. Some people are always afraid. People who happen to feel threatened, even by an unarmed person, should not feel as though they have a license to kill. That’s why Ohio police chiefs oppose this bill.
Ohio laws that justify the use of lethal force for self-protection are more than adequate. We don't need to become another Florida, even if we could use the sunshine.