Frances Rice, a Sarasota resident, is outraged at three Sarasota City Commissioners who voted to pass a resolution which calls for the repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
“This will result in the denial of our Second Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution,” states retired Army Lt. Colonel Frances Rice, who is pursuing avenues for initiating a petition to recall Sarasota City Vice Mayor Willie Shaw, Commissioner At-Large Suzanne Atwell and Commissioner At-Large Susan Chapman (see photos and contact information at the end of this column).
“I was inspired by the successful recall of Colorado Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron,” Colonel Rice said. “They were ousted from office after they abridged the Second Amendment right of the citizens of Colorado with a draconian and unconstitutional gun-control law.” She went on to say that “it is unconscionable that Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman are now using their elected office as a vehicle for abridging the Second Amendment rights of the citizens of Sarasota.”
Colonel Rice further stated that Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman have “misrepresented Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law as a gun law when it is not. This law contains absolutely no references to guns or shooting.” According to Rice the self-defense, self-protection law has four key components:
1. It establishes that law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume there is a threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle. Law-abiding citizens and visitors may, in these circumstances, use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.
2. In any other place where the law-abiding resident or visitor “has a right to be,” that person has “no duty to retreat” if attacked. The law-abiding resident or visitor may “meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another, or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
3. In either case, a law-abiding resident or visitor using the force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action. The law-abiding resident or visitor cannot be arrested, unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.
4. If a civil action is brought and the court finds the law-abiding resident or visitor (the defendant) to be immune based on the parameters of the law, the law-abiding resident or visitor (the defendant) will be awarded all costs of defense.
Rice points to two articles which address how African Americans are affected by Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law: “How Black Leaders Exploit Their People for Political and Financial Gain” by Gary DeMar and “Five Myths of the ‘Racist’ Criminal Justice System” by Larry Elder.
“Neither Vice Mayor Shaw nor Commissioners Atwell and Chapman called for a repeal of Florida’s self-defense law when a white man in Tampa, David James, was killed by a black man, Trevor Dooley, and Trevor Dooley invoked the self-defense law in his defense. An article is posted on the Internet which provides additional analysis is entitled “George Zimmerman & Trevor Dooley: Stand Your Ground Hypocrisy?” by Lee Stranahan,” notes Rice.
Rice states, “Not one word was said by Vice Mayor Shaw or Commissioners Atwell and Chapman when, in Jacksonville, the NAACP advocated the use of Florida’s self-defense law in support of a black woman, Marissa Danielle Alexander, who claimed self-defense against an abusive husband. The details about this case can be found in an article entitled ‘NAACP weighs in on what they say is a ‘Stand Your Ground’ case against Jacksonville woman‘ by Charles Broward.”
Rice notes, “Yet, Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman have now roused themselves and passed a resolution to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law when their action will have no effect other than to deny the citizens of Sarasota their Second Amendment rights.”
Mayor Shannon Snyder and Commissioner District 2 Paul Caragiulo voted against the resolution. Mayor Snyder spoke in full support of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law and the duty of elected officials to protect the Second Amendment right of the citizens of Sarasota.
Colonel Rice opined that “Vice Mayor Shaw and Commissioners Atwell and Chapman should be held accountable for their blatant abuse of power and malfeasance by being recalled from office.”
Two City Commissioners are already backtracking on their vote to repeal Stand Your Ground. Susan Chapman said,”We didn’t vote to repeal Stand Your Ground. We voted to revisit it.” Suzanne Atwell said her support for the vice-mayor’s plan should be seen as agreeing to have “a conversation about a highly charged issue.” The repeal was listed in the City Commission’s document titled Revised Final 2014 Legislative Priorities. The revised priorities state, “The City Commission requests that the State Legislature repeal the Stand Your Ground statute and establish a more civil approach to governance than afforded under the current statute.” [Emphasis added]
UPDATE: According to the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “Yesterday, the Sarasota City Commission met with the Sarasota County Legislative Delegation to present the city’s list of legislative priorities. One of those priorities requested the legislative delegation to work to repeal Florida’s ‘Stand your Ground’ statute. Fortunately, the four legislators attending this meeting disagreed with the city commission and oppose repealing the ‘Stand your Ground’ statute.”
EDITORS NOTE: The City of Sarasota is governed by a “Commission – Manager” form of government. There are five City Commissioners, two are elected at-large and three are elected from single-member districts. All elections are nonpartisan.