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Florida Governor Drafts ‘Anti-Mob’ Bill That Could Allow Citizens to Shoot Suspected Looters Under ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law Expansion

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has drafted a “anti-mob” bill that would expand the controversial stand-your-ground law, following a summer of nationwide protests and unrest.

Critics say the new legislation could embolden vigilantes by allowing gun owners to shoot suspected looters or those involved in criminal mischief that is disruptive to a business.

Expanding Stand Your Ground, which includes the governor’s suggestions, is a part of the legislation proposal sent to lawmakers ahead of next week’s 2020 sessions.

DeSantis offered similar suggestions last December, when he promised to crack down on disorderly protests. He repeated the sentiment again in September, in reference to “violent and disorderly assemblies” that took place following the death of George Floyd in May.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Photo: Gov. Ron DeSantis YouTube screenshot)

“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” said Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor with experience working stand-your-ground cases. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly,” she told the Tampa Bay Times.

By expanding the state’s list of “forcible felonies,” the legislation would justify the use of force against people that take part in criminal mischief that disrupt a business, or against those who burglarize a business within 500 feet of a “violent or disorderly assembly.”

“You must be first attacked, secondly, you must be in a place where you have the right to be,” said former state Sen. David Simmons. He helped draft the original stand-your-ground law.

Under the new proposal, it would be a third-degree felony to block a street during a protest, and drivers who say they unintentionally injured protesters could be offered immunity.

Local governments that cut law enforcement budgets could be denied some state funding.

“It’s crucial for people to be able to defend themselves and their property — which is why existing Florida law already offers very strong protections,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said. “We need to be incredibly careful when we expand laws that give ordinary citizens the power to kill someone without any due process. Busting out a window or breaking into an empty store should lead to an arrest and criminal consequences by law enforcement professionals —not Wild West vigilantism that puts more people in harm’s way.”

The bill has not yet been filed in the House or Senate, and no legislators have said they will sponsor it.

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