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Florida-style 'Stand Your Ground' gun laws sub impulse for intelligent thinking

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A Florida-style Stand Your Ground law would have explicitly entitled me to meet force with force without having to retreat first, if I believed it were necessary to prevent death or bodily harm to myself.

Breathing alcohol fumes on me, this huge man asked, “What did you think of my leader?”

“I thought Dr. King was a great man,” I answered. The poor fellow’s eyes welled with tears. He released me and shuffled off weeping.

Those who legally carry concealed weapons would likely have encouraged me to shoot that man in “self-defense.” Indeed, 32 states now have some form of Florida’s law.

Kill a man for grieving – even if it was angry grieving?

Many Americans have been duped into believing they, too, can be Clint Eastwood with a .44 Magnum. They don’t realize Hollywood-style vigilantism is a universe apart from real life.

Dedicated police and other professional law enforcement officers do not act out vigilante fantasies.

When John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate President Reagan in 1981, Mr. Hinckley’s gun was firing about 30 inches from my left ear. He got off six shots in 1.7 seconds before a mass of Secret Service agents pounced, grinding him into the concrete.

Of what use would a stand-your-ground mind-set have been in that melee? The Secret Service agents who apprehended a would-be presidential assassin did not use their guns.

But if it’s illegal for police to shoot impulsively, why are so many state legislatures empowering people to become judge, jury, and executioner anytime they are afraid?

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