Florida pro-gun Sheriff defeats anti-gun State Attorney

willie meggs

William “Willie” N. Meggs, State Attorney, 2nd Judicial Circuit

NRA-ILA notes in an email that Liberty County, Florida Sheriff Nick Finch, was “prosecuted for his actions in upholding the Second Amendment” by William “Willie” N. Meggs, the “anti-gun State Attorney for 2nd Judicial Circuit, Florida.”

Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack was at the trial of Sheriff Finch and wrote on the Oath Keepers website, “Today, October 31, 2013, Sheriff Nick Finch won his case in a farce of trial in Liberty County, Florida. Sheriff Finch was charged and arrested and booked into his own jail last June. Sheriff Finch had done something unheard of, yet noble and courageous. He nullified the arrest of a law abiding citizen who had the audacity of carrying a gun in his pocket. Sheriff Finch said ‘not on my watch.’ So the State moves in, arrests the Sheriff and re-arrests the citizen, Mr. Parish. The end result was Finch was removed from office and went to trial. Mr. Parish once again had the charges dropped, but he had to perform 50 hours of community service and pay $200.”

“Let’s be very clear here, neither man was guilty of anything! There were no victims and no evidence that a crime had ever occurred,” notes Sheriff Mack.

According to Joe Wolverton II, J.D. writing in The New American:

Minutes after noon on Thursday, October 31, an eight-person jury acquitted Sheriff Nick Finch of both charges against him. Finch, the sheriff of Liberty County, Florida, was accused of official misconduct and falsifying records. Finch maintained that he was simply standing up for the right of the people to keep and bear arms as protected by the Second Amendment.

The jury agreed, reaching its verdict in fewer than 90 minutes. Within minutes of being found not guilty, Sheriff Finch spoke with Governor Rick Scott, who reinstated Finch within hours.

“Sheriff Nick Finch will be reinstated immediately,” said Governor Scott in a written statement. “I would like to thank the members of the jury in Liberty County for their service in this trial. I would also like to thank Interim Sheriff Buddy Money for his service to the state of Florida.”

Wolverton notes, “Governor Scott’s persecution and prosecution of a sheriff standing up for the Second Amendment rights of citizens of his county is particularly questionable given the hostile climate that threatens the right to keep and bear arms nationally. It’s over now, though, and all is forgiven. The fact remains that Finch suffered substantial financial setbacks as a result of his removal and at press time, it was unclear whether Sheriff Finch would receive back pay for the four months he was suspended.”

Wolverton writes, “There is an additional disturbing aspect of the case not being commented on by other news outlets. Imagine that Sheriff Finch had released a man arrested and jailed for having openly preached Christianity in a public place. Would Governor Scott have been so hasty to remove Finch from office? Why would the rights protected by the Second Amendment be subordinate to those guaranteed by the First Amendment?”

This trial cost Sheriff Finch both his liberty and treasure. Sheriff Finch standing up for the US Constitution has made him a hero to supporters. Those who enforce the law are required to protect and defend the people and their Constitutional rights. Justice was served, but at a price.

Senator Dick Durbin attacks Florida’s stand your ground law

On October 29th, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing chaired by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), assistant Majority Leader, titled, “‘Stand Your Ground Laws’: Civil Rights and Public Safety Implications of the Expanded Use of Deadly Force.”

According to the NRA-ILA, “Present were several witnesses who attacked not only SYG laws, but also the Right-to-Carry, and even the American jury system.”

Ronald S. Sullivan, Clinical Professor of Law Harvard University.

NRA-ILA reports:

During his testimony, Harvard Law Professor Ronald Sullivan incorporated the themes of the previous witnesses and also shared his opinion of the highly publicized case involving George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Coming to a different conclusion than that of the jury who acquitted Zimmerman, Sullivan theorized that Zimmerman was motivated by racism and that he shot Martin as Martin was attempting to defend himself from attack. In a radical statement, Sullivan noted that as a result of the Zimmerman case, residents of Florida are led to believe “they can incorrectly profile young black children, kill them, and be protected by stand your ground laws.”

One of the witnesses who defended the right to self-defense was Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato institute Illya Shapiro.  Shapiro’s testimony made clear that that the concept of no duty to retreat has been part of the American legal tradition dating back 150 years and that it is the law in 31 states. Shapiro went on to note that the Supreme Court enshrined the concept in federal law with the 1895 case of Beard v. United States, and that as an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama sponsored an expansion of the state’s self-defense laws.

Christopher Amore, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and an associate at the law firm of Mound Cotton Wollan & Greengrass in New York, in the National Security Law Journal, published by George Mason University writes:

The concept of self-defense has long been a part of most legal systems. For example, the Bible endorses the principle of self-defense in its recognition of the right of the homeowner to kill the unlawful intruder. The Talmud acknowledges a right to use force against aggressors who threaten human interests, or threatened to kill. Saint Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth century Italian Catholic priest and philosopher, reasoned that the purpose of using deadly force in self defense was not to kill, but rather to repel the attacker.

“[The] force had to be directed against the attack, not the attacker. The death was a side effect of the legitimate purpose rather than the goal itself.”

In 1688, English lawmakers, affirming the natural right for people to defend themselves, codified the right to bear arms in the Declaration of Right: “the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law.” The Convention Parliament, the legislative body responsible for the drafting of the Declaration of Right, believed that the right to bear arms for the purpose of self-defense was one of the “true auntient and indubitable Rights and Liberties of the People.”

England’s recognition of the inherent right to self-defense in the seventeenth century would be echoed over three hundred years later by the United States Supreme Court. Interpreting this provision of the Declaration of Right in the landmark Second Amendment case District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court explained that “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence” was necessary in order to protect “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation.”

Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith. (Photo credit: News 13)

Guns.com reports, “Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith announced this week that the city’s neighborhood watch program has been revamped and has now banned neighborhood watch members from carrying guns, local media reports…Opinions on the shooting – and the trial – remain a highly debated and heated topic, just as the program’s decision to ban firearms likely will be. The new rules and regulations of the neighborhood watch program, which will be announced at a community meeting next Tuesday, include prohibiting volunteers from pursuing any individual who they deem suspicious.”

Smith appears to be implementing procedures that not in accordance with Florida’s concealed carry and stand your ground statutes. The decision to carry and use deadly force is made by the individual.

Senator Christopher Smith, Democrat Minority Leader Florida Senate.

The Florida legislature will take up stand your ground during the 2014 legislative session. According to Robert M. Levy:

With the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial — in which he was acquitted in the shooting of a black teenager — some lawmakers are calling for a serious revision of Florida’s 2005 “stand your ground” self-defense law.

Following Trayvon Martin’s killing, Scott convened a task force to look at the law, but the panel did not recommend any major changes and none were achieved this year. But Senate Democratic leader Chris Smith of Fort Lauderdale has re-filed legislation [SB 0122] that would prevent individuals from “unreasonably escalating” a violent conflict and then claiming self-defense. The bill would also prevent a self-defense shield for individuals who chased someone down or left a safe place.

The bill also requires local law enforcement agencies to develop guidelines on neighborhood watch programs.

The House has agreed to hold hearings on the self-defense law, although the chairman of the panel has said he doesn’t support any changes to it.

Is disarming Floridians and weakening Florida’s stand your ground laws the best way to ensure “the natural right of resistance and self-preservation”? We expose, you decide.

Florida Second Amendment Protection Act gains support

Concerns about efforts to restrict the right to bear arms is growing. This issue came to the forefront of American gun owners when US Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Treaty. According to Guns.com:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a letter today [October 15th]to the White House, along with 49 other senators and 181 members of the U.S. House, urging the president to notify the U.N. that the United States does not plan on ratifying the controversial Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to regulate the world’s annual exchange of $70 billion in conventional weaponry. 

Despite the fact Secretary of State John Kerry has signed the agreement and President Obama strongly backs it, the ultimate decision on whether it is adopted by the U.S. falls to the Senate, which must pass it by a two-thirds majority.

Given that 50 senators have promised to vote against the ATT, it’s pretty much dead in the water and that was the essence of Manchin’s letter.

Florida has over one million concealed carry permit holders, it is estimated that nearly 25% of Floridians own a gun and the sunshine state has one of the strongest stand your ground protection statutes in the nation. What gun owners see as a growing threat to their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms has lead to the introduction of the Second Amendment Protection Act, which will be debated during the 2014 legislative session. Gun Owners of America has endorsed and it members are supporting the Florida Second Amendment Protection Act.

The proposed legislation would prohibit any state cooperation with federal acts that violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“No agency of this state, political subdivision of this state, or employee of an agency or political subdivision acting in his or her official capacity, or corporation providing services on behalf of this state or a political subdivision of this state shall enforce any federal act, law, order, rule, or regulation of the federal government of the United States regarding a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition within the limits of this State.”

“The proposed Florida Second Amendment Preservation Act is the kind of legislation that all states should be enacting. Since the Federal government seems not to understand the meaning of ‘shall not be infringed,’ the states must step in to reign in an out-of-control government in Washington,” Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt said.

The bill rests on the non-commandeering doctrine that holds the federal government cannot compel states to enforce federal acts.

“There is absolutely no legitimate debate on this issue,” Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said. “The Supreme Court has held at least four times that the federal government cannot force states to into action on its behalf. This bill essentially lets the feds know, if they want to violate Floridian’s rights they’ll have to try and do it themselves.”

Maharrey said Florida Second Amendment Protection Act would seriously impede any federal attempts to violate the right to keep and bear arms in the Sunshine State. Just last week, the National Governors Association admitted in a letter to Congress that the feds need help “in implementing most federal programs.”

“Northern states effectively used this exact same strategy to thwart draconian federal fugitive slave acts allowing black people to be snatched up and hauled back south into slavery simply on the word of a white man,” Maharrey said. “By refusing to lift a finger to help, states can slam the door on unconstitutional federal acts.”

Gun Owners of America has over 300,000 members nationwide. Florida Tenth Amendment Center outreach director Francisco Rodriguez said he’s thrilled to have the organization backing the legislation.

“The Florida Tenth Amendment Center is anticipating flood of support for this bill preserving the Second Amendment, and GOA’s endorsement sparks the engine to accelerate the success.”

You can find more information on the legislation, including the full text HERE.

ABOUT GUN OWNERS OF AMERICA

Gun Owners of America (GOA) is a non-profit lobbying organization formed in 1975 to preserve and defend the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. GOA sees firearms ownership as a freedom issue.

ABOUT THE TENTH AMENDMENT CENTER

The Tenth Amendment Center exists to promote and advance a return to a proper balance of power between federal and State governments envisioned by our founders, prescribed by the Constitution and explicitly declared in the Tenth Amendment. The TAC works to preserve and protect the principle of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism.

FL AG Pam Bondi working against Second Amendment?

The following was received from Florida Carry:

While California Senator Dianne Feinstein was filing a bill in the U.S. Senate to ban millions of privately owned firearms, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office filed documents attempting to have the Florida Supreme Court prohibit a Florida appellate court from hearing the case of Dale Norman, a concealed carry licensee who was convicted of violating Florida’s ban on the unconcealed carry of firearms.

In Florida, it is generally unlawful to carry a firearm except under the state’s concealed carry licensing laws.  The Florida courts have consistently ruled that concealed carry is not a right protected by the Second Amendment, but only a privilege which is granted at the whim of the Legislature.

The County Court Judge who issued the lower court ruling in the Norman trial called the law “vague” and possibly unconstitutional.  He went on to certify the case’s constitutional issues as “Questions of Great Public Importance” to be reviewed directly by the 4th District Court of Appeals because they “affect millions of Floridians”. Subsequently a federal appellate court ruled in Moore v. Madigan that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the Right to Bear Arms protects a person’s right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense and other lawful purposes.

The Florida Attorney General is now attempting to convince the Florida Supreme Court to prohibit a three-judge panel at the appellate court from exercising its jurisdiction to review the constitutionality of the “Open Carry” ban law and to review the judgment and sentencing imposed on Mr. Norman.

The applicable Florida rules of appellate procedure demand that “If the district court of appeal accepts the appeal, it will decide all issues that would have been subject to appeal…”.

“We have not seen a Florida Attorney General take such drastic anti-Second Amendment positions since 1987 when Bob Butterworth fought tooth and nail against concealed carry licensing”, said Florida Carry, Inc. Executive Director Sean Caranna.  “We’ve previously spoken to staffers at the highest level of Bondi’s office to be sure that they were aware of the impact this case has on the right to bear arms.  This is an attempted end-run around the Constitution that she swore an oath to protect.”

Why is the Attorney General devoting so many tax payer dollars to defending Dale’s $500 fine and misdemeanor criminal conviction for violating the Open Carry ban?  We truly hope that we are wrong, but it appears that upholding the Second Amendment is a bridge too far for Pam Bondi.

Dale Norman’s Attorney Eric J. Friday said, “We will continue to fight to ensure that Dale Norman gets his day in Court.  The lower court judge made it clear that he felt this case should be addressed by the DCA.  Since the Moore v. Madigan decision, there is no constitutional basis for Florida’s open carry ban.”

ABOUT FLORIDA CARRY

Florida Carry, Inc. is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to advancing the fundamental rights of all Floridians to keep and bear arms for self-defense as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I Section 8 of the Florida Constitution. Florida Carry stands only to represent our supporters, members, and the over 7-million gun owners of Florida. We are not beholden to any national organization’s agenda that may compromise that mission. Florida Carry works tirelessly toward striking down ill-conceived gun control laws that have been proven to provide safe havens to criminals and be deadly to law-abiding citizens.

EDITORS NOTE: Florida has over one million concealed carry permit holders (one in seventeen citizens). This does not include the number of Floridians who own guns estimated at 24.5% of the population or over 4 million residents.

Backlash for 3 Sarasota commissioners on Stand Your Ground Vote

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]

To view the results of this survey as a pie chart click here.

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.

Mayor Shannon Snyder

Mayor Shannon Snyder
District Three
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Shannon.Snyder@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Willie Shaw

Vice-Mayor Willie Shaw
District One
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Willie.Shaw@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Suzanne Atwell

Commissioner Suzanne Atwell
At-Large
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Suzanne.Atwell@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo
District Two
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Paul.Caragiulo@sarasotagov.com

Commissioner Susan Chapman

Commissioner Susan Chapman
At-Large
1565 1st Street, Room 101
Sarasota, FL 34236
Phone: (941) 954-4115
Email: Susan.Chapman@sarasotagov.com

FL Middle school quiz asks – “What Kind Of Party Animal Are You?”

Dr. Fran Adams, Superintendent of Indian River County School District

“I was contacted tonight by a group of parents wanting answers. This quiz (survey) below was given to Ms. [Megan] Kendrick’s 7th grade Pre-AP Civics class last week at Storm Grove Middle School in Indian River County,” writes Laura Zorc, SE FL State Coordinator for Florida Parents Against Common Core (FPACC).

The What Kind of Party Animal Are You? quiz states: “Take this quiz to get a sense of which party, the Republican or the Democrat, is the better fit for you. Remember, you do not have to pick a party – you may remain Independent. You may also change your party.”

Question #1: “I would support a government increase of my taxes if the money were used to pay for expanded health and social programs.”

Question #2: “I think the government should impose stricter limits on access to guns.”

Question #3: “I believe organized prayer should be kept out of schools. Having students pray is a violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Question #4: “I would support drilling for oil in a wildlife refuge to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.”

Question #5: “I believe that looking out for U.S. interests abroad must come first, even if that means the U.S. takes action without the approval of the United Nations or our allies.”

Question #6: “I believe if you have nothing to hide, theres no reason to worry about government surveillance. It would not bother me if my government listened in on my personal phone calls as long as the surveillance was helping to catch terrorists.”

Question #7: “I believe the government should relax regulations on immigration and find a way for law-abiding illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally and pay taxes.”

NOTE: The answer choices for each question are – Agree (one point), Not Sure (two points), Disagree (three points).

According to Jennifer Idlette-Williams, Principal of Storm Grove Middle School, “The survey What Kind of Party Animal Are You? came from page 14 of the Junior Scholastic Magazine, which is a state approved resource for Florida’s mandatory Civics state curriculum. All three of the Civics teachers at Storm Grove use the survey, and other Indian River middle schools have used it. No grades were attached to the survey and no names were linked to the survey. There was no parental opt out for taking the survey as it is part of the state approved curricula.” Principal Idette-Williams noted, “Students could create their own political party animal. One student created a frog, which can live in the water or on land. This student would be comfortable with both parties.”

What kind of a party animal are you

Quiz used in Civics class. For a larger view click on the image.

According to Zorc, “The students were told that they could not take this Quiz/Survey home, they had to complete [it] at school. One student felt that they must consult with ‘his or her’ parent and did not feel comfortable filling it out. In other words the student had to ‘smuggle it out’ as described to me. (NOTE: Child is afraid of getting in trouble and we will can not disclose identity of child)”

Zorc states, “After you read this quiz/survey, as a parent you will be appalled by material being taught. Parents are outraged at the way the questions are presented.” See teacher’s weekly agenda to notice that this assignment is Common Core State Standards aligned.

“Parents want an explanation to why a ‘civics’ (a study of the theoretical practical aspects of citizenship, its rights and duties…) curriculum aligned to Common Core State Standards is being taught? The FL DOE had been emphatic that CCSS is only going to be taught in English Language Arts and Math only. Secondly, parents want to know ‘who’ approved this curriculum material being taught?” asks Zorc. According to the school principal the FLDOE approved the use of this material.

Parents, concerned citizens and members of FPACC plan to attend the September 24th Indian River County School Board meeting to ask that this material be removed from the public school district curriculum.

EDITORS NOTE: WDW – FL has calls into the school district and school board requesting information including who authorized the use of this quiz, what other schools have used it and how is the data from the quiz used. We are awaiting a reply and will post an update.

Online Survey: City of Sarasota, FL wants to repeal Stand Your Ground – do you agree?

The City of Sarasota, FL has experienced a 34% decrease in the City’s taxable property since 2008, which has affected the City’s operating revenues and levels of services. The Unfunded Actuarial Accrued Liability (UAAL) for the City’s three defined benefit plans and Other Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) plan was $296 million as of September 30, 2012. The City has a investment in capital assets net of related debt of $161,031,693 in 2012, up $4.91 million from 2011. The City has unrestricted net assets of $64,273,514. (NOTE: Although the City’s investment in its capital assets is reported net of related debt, it should still be noted that the resources needed to repay this debt must be provided from other sources, since the capital assets themselves cannot be used to liquidate these liabilities.)

At the end of the current fiscal year, the City had a total bonded debt outstanding of $142,008,656. Of this amount, $42,909,043 comprises debt backed by the full faith and credit of the City. The City’s interest on long-term debt in 2012 was $4,519,066. The City of Sarasota is on a path to become a mini-Detroit.

So what is top of mind with the City Commissioners? Repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) statute.

Please take the Online Survey at the end of the column.

According to Allison Neilson from Sunshine State News, “When outlining the major legislative priorities for its 2014 agenda, the Sarasota City Commission voted to support a repeal of Florida’s Stand Your Ground laws. The repeal was listed in the City Commission’s document titled Revised Final 2014 Legislative Priorities.”

The City Commission vote was taken on September 7th, just days before the September 10th recall vote in Colorado where two Democrat legislators were ousted for their support of gun control.

The ball is now in the court of the Sarasota Legislative Delegation headed by FL Senator Nancy Detert (R). Delegation members include: FL Representatives Jim Boyd (R), Ray Pilon (R), Darryl Rouson (D), Greg Steube (R) and Doug Holder (R).

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legal Action (NRA-ILA) has already weighed in on this City initiative. The NRA-ILA sent out an email to members asking them to contact the Sarasota Legislative Delegation members and ask them to oppose the City’s priority to repeal SYG. The NRA-ILA states, “The ‘Stand your Ground’ statute gives back rights that have been eroded or taken away by a judicial system that, at times, appears to give preferential treatment to criminals.”

“The City Commission can’t expect a victim to wait before taking action to protect himself and his family and say, ‘excuse me, Mr. Criminal, are you here breaking into my home to rape and kill me or are you just here to beat me up and steal my TV set? And by the way what kind of weapon do you have?'”, asks the NRA-ILA.

WDW has asked Sarasota Legislative Delegation members for a statement on the City’s priority to repeal SYG. No replies have been received as of the publication of this column.

The NRA-ILA notes, “A law-abiding citizen should not have to worry about being arrested or prosecuted if you use force to defend yourself or your family. You should be able to presume that anyone who unlawfully intrudes is there to harm you.”

To view the results of this survey as a pie chart click here.

RELATED:

Total Recall: Colorado Lawmakers Ousted in Historic Vote

Florida Second Amendment Protection Act Goes LIVE!

Infographic: As gun sales rise gun crimes plummet

Florida has over one million citizens with concealed carry permits. This does not include the millions more who own a firearm in the state. Florida has come under scrutiny for its Stand Your Ground laws, which protect citizens who are protecting themselves. Gun rights are embedded in America’s history, a part of the Constitution and a right of law abiding citizens.

This infographic is from the National Shooting Sports Foundation says it all.

Gun Crimes Plummet Even As Gun Sales Rise

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

About the National Shooting Sports Foundation

The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 8,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s organizations and publishers.

Anti-Stand Your Ground video misleading at best

NOTE: What this graphic does not say is that since 2006 concealed carry permits and gun ownership across America and in Florida has skyrocketed. More people are defending themselves. Graphic courtesy of the International Business Times. For a larger view click on the image.

The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) has released a video (below) about Stand Your Ground laws. The video is misleading on at least two counts.

Amanda Terkel from the Huffington Post reports that CSGV Communications Director Ladd Everitt stated, “‘Stand Your Ground’ laws have essentially legalized murder. With this PSA, we hope to add to the nationwide push to repeal these immoral laws.” There is no evidence that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has “legalized murder” unless one defines “murder” as self-defense. George Zimmerman was accused of murder in the second degree. During the trial Circuit Judge Debra Nelson allowed the jury to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter. Zimmerman was acquitted on both charges.

The CSGV video begins with a man, apparently Zimmerman, on a cell phone watching another man in a hoodie across the street. In the video the man while on the cell phone after talking with the police (actual 911 audio of Zimmerman used), reaches inside his jacket apparently to pull a gun. This scene is factually incorrect. Nothing in the Zimmerman trial shows this scenario happened. What the evidence did show is that Zimmerman did not draw his weapon until after he was on the ground with Trayvon Martin on top punching him. One shot was fired, killing Martin in self-defence.

The premise of the video is misleading because Florida’s Stand Your Ground (SYG) law was never used in the defense of George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was tried and found not guilty on all charges because he acted in self-defense.

The Tampa Bay Times reviewed all the cases in Florida where SYG was used as a legal defense. The research found that Blacks are more likely to be protected by SYG than whites. The Times review found no indication those using SYG as a defense “got away with murder”.

The Huffington Post’s article by Terkel on the video is also misleading.

Terkel states, “Zimmerman cited Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as justification for killing Martin and authorities initially refused to arrest him.” The Zimmerman defense team waived the use of SYG at the beginning of the trial. According to the CFS New 13 Zimmerman trial timeline, “Feb. 29, 2012 – Sanford police say George Zimmerman was ‘serving in the role of neighborhood watch’ when the shooting happened.” Zimmerman was not arrested because during the review by law enforcement officials (the details of which came out during the trial) showed he committed no crime but acted in self defense.

The Sheriff did not refuse to arrest Zimmerman. In fact the opposite is true. Eliott C. McLaughlin from CNN reported:

The George Zimmerman investigation was hijacked “in a number of ways” by outside forces, said the former police chief of Sanford, Florida.

Bill Lee, who testified Monday in Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial, told CNN’s George Howell in an exclusive interview that he felt pressure from city officials to arrest Zimmerman to placate the public rather than as a matter of justice.

“It was (relayed) to me that they just wanted an arrest. They didn’t care if it got dismissed later,” he said. “You don’t do that.”

The French classical liberal theorist Claude Frédéric Bastiat wrote, “Finally, is not liberty the restricting of the law only to its rational sphere of organizing the right of the individual to lawful self-defense; of punishing injustice?” In reality the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is actually anti-self defense.

Self defense is a lawful act of liberty to act against violence and injustice. Those against self-defense are restricting liberty.

Coalition to Stop Gun Violence video:

RELATED: Firearms Freedom Act coming to Florida?

Firearms Freedom Act coming to Florida?

The SWFL Citizens Alliance has been working to get Florida to be one of the next states to pass a Second Amendment Protection and Firearms Freedom Act. This is happening while Democrats are trying to repeal Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

A Firearms Freedom Act passed in Kansas this year. Proponents see it is a strong statement of “State Sovereignty” based on both the Commerce Clause and the 2nd, 9th and 10th Amendments of the US Constitution.

Map of states that have passed, introduced or are considering a Firearms Freedom Act. For a larger view click on the map.

In an email the SWFL Citizens Alliance states, “We have met with and have the support of 7 of our 8 FL House and Senate delegation from Southwest Florida. Rep Matt Hudson submitted the Kansas bill to Florida House Bill writing team and we have a Florida Draft of the bill – see attachedRep. Dane Eagle volunteered to sponsor this bill and our SWFL delegation strongly supports him to sponsor the House version of this bill.”

“We have had lengthy conference calls with the Kansas Sponsor of their bill, Rep. John Rubin and the NRA Affiliate, Patricia Stoneking, who was co-author of their KS Bill,” notes the Alliance.

The Alliance had a booth at the Florida Sheriffs Association (FSA) Summer Conference. Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk introduced the Florida draft legislation during the conference. The sheriffs agreed by consensus to ask their Legislative Committee to consider including this in their 2014 Legislative Agenda. The FSA Legislative Committee meets on August 30th.

The Alliance is seeking a Senate sponsor, with “several Senators contacted who are reviewing the draft legislation”.

September 23, 2013 is the first Florida Committee week in Tallahassee. The Alliance hopes to get teams from 8-10 counties to meet with various Committee heads to insure the Second Amendment Protection and Firearms Freedom Act is a priority for both House and Senate in the 2014 cycle.

Read the SWFL Citizens Alliance mission and vision statement here.

Sanford, FL: Black man points gun at White child, pistol whips Mother

During the trial of George Zimmerman there was another incident in Sanford, FL that went unreported until now.

According to the Sanford police, Charles Anthony Jones, 41, is seen on surveillance video on July 6, 2013 pointing a gun at a child inside the Cancun Salon on Hiawatha Avenue in Sanford. The store owner and mother tried to protect her child and was thrown to the ground and hit in the head with the gun.

Police in Sanford, Florida solved the armed robbery after a veteran detective was able to identify the black man in the below disturbing surveillance video this week.

“Two times he says, ‘Give me money, I want money,’” said the owner, Inez Rodriguez. “Take my phone. Take my computer. Everything is money,” she said. Rodriguez said he only wanted cash. There were two children in the salon …

Read more at ClashDaily.com

Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL) introduces national concealed carry reciprocity law

There are over one million Florida concealed carry permit holders. Many live in other states or travel across America conducting business, visiting family and friends or to vacation. Many bring along their firearm and their state issued concealed carry permit for personal protection when on the road in a strange place.

Currently not all states recognize Florida’s, or one anothers, concealed carry permits. Herein lies the problem for law abiding citizens. For a list of the 34 states that recognize a Florida concealed carry permit click here.

Florida Dash reports:

Few Americans are aware that just because they may have a concealed weapons license in the respective state they live in, concealed weapons license reciprocity does not exist throughout the United States, as it does for state issued driver’s licenses.

Former Sheriff and current Congressman Rich Nugent (R-FL) wants to change that, filing a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would recognized concealed weapons licenses across the country, and “create some common-sense capability for law-abiding citizens to move about a free country without a patchwork of conflicting statutes.” 

Following introduction of his legislation to provide reciprocity for individuals holding concealed-carry licenses, Rep. Rich Nugent (R-FL District 11) issued the following statement:

“If I have a driver’s license issued by the state of Florida and I drive all the way across the country to California, my driver’s license is valid the entire way. Even though the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license may vary from state to state, we have a system that recognizes the need for reciprocity.

Currently, that sort of reciprocity does not extend to concealed carry licenses for firearms.

If a lawful and duly licensed person travels from one state into another, whether accidentally or on purpose, they can be in violation of serious gun control laws. The goal with this legislation isn’t to tell states what their laws have to be. In fact, a concealed carry license holder from Florida is still required to obey the concealed carry laws of the particular state that he or she is entering.

The goal with this legislation is to create some common-sense capability for law-abiding citizens to move about a free country without a patchwork of conflicting statutes.

“The Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms ‘shall not be infringed’. This legislation is a common sense measure that will ensure that as free Americans travel from one state to another, their Constitutional rights are not infringed. “I am proud to be the leader on this issue and this legislation. As a former law enforcement official with the proper credential, I am permitted to carry a firearm in all 50 states. I can certainly understand the practical frustration that many law-abiding gun owners feel with our current patchwork system.

The previous version of this legislation passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in 2011 and I look forward to seeing it pass again during this Congress.”

George Zimmerman rescues family of four from vehicle accident

It seems that George Zimmerman is destined to be there at the right time. Multiple media outlets are reporting on how Zimmerman helped rescue four people from an overturned vehicle last week, just days after he was cleared of all charges in the now famous Sanford, FL case.

ABC News reports:

Zimmerman was one of two men who came to the aid of a family of four — two parents and two children — trapped inside a blue Ford Explorer SUV that had rolled over after traveling off the highway in Sanford, Fla. at approximately 5:45 p.m. Thursday, the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The crash occurred at the intersection of I-4 and route Route 46, police said. The crash site is less than a mile from where Zimmerman shot Martin.

By the time police arrived, two people – including Zimmerman – had already helped the family get out of the overturned car, the sheriff’s office said. No one was reported to be injured.

The prosecutors in the self-defense case disparagingly called Zimmerman a “wannabe cop”. It looks like Zimmerman may also be a wannabe paramedic. The family of four is most grateful.

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Self-Defense Immunity Laws: Florida protects you best

There are over 1 million concealed weapon carry permit holders in the state of Florida. The concealed weapon or firearm program is administered by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Section 790.06 (1), Florida Statutes, defines concealed weapons or firearms as those carried in a manner that conceals them from the ordinary sight of another person. This includes: handguns, electronic weapons or devices, tear gas guns, knives and billies.

According to Adam H. Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “Applying for a license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm for self-defense is a right of law-abiding Floridians. However, you must remember that a license to carry a weapon or firearm concealed on your person does not authorize you to use that weapon. Use of a concealed weapon or firearm is regulated by other provisions of Florida law. It is my hope that you will exercise your lawful right to carry a concealed weapon or firearm responsibly, properly, and safely.”

Florida statute 776.032 covers the uses of a weapon in Florida for self-defense.

 from Legal Insurrection did a comprehensive analysis of stand your ground laws and reports:

Now that the Zimmerman criminal trial has concluded, much attention has focused on the prospects for Zimmerman seeking protection under Florida’s self-defense immunity statute from any possible civil action against him.

Florida’s statute 776.032, is among the broader self-defense immunity statutes, in that it possesses all four qualities of an optimal statute of this type.

First, it is not limited to particular settings or circumstances (e.g., such as to self-defense encounters in and around one’s home).

Second, it prohibits even the arrest of the person who acted in self-defense, in the absence of probable cause for such arrest.

Third, it immunizes against criminal as well as civil liability.

And, fourth, it provides for the defendant who successfully obtains immunity to recover all reasonable legal expenses (and, in the case of Florida, even compensation for lost income) from the plaintiff.

Fully 32 states provide some degree of limitation of liability for the individual who has genuinely acted in self-defense, but there is considerable variety in terms of the scope and manner of protection provided.

Property-centered Immunity

Five states provide self-defense immunity only in the context of a defense of dwelling. Conceptually, this is very similar to the Castle Doctrine, in which you are relieved of any generalized duty to retreat if you are defending yourself in your home. These states include Colorado, Georgia, Hawai’i, Maryland, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

No Arrest In Absence of Probable Cause

Three states provide that the person who acted in claimed self-defense may not even be arrested unless their exists probably cause to believe that their use of force was not legitimate self-defense. As a practical matter, the use of deadly force in self-defense routinely results in the arrest of the person who used that force. Typically the person who used the force either clams up when confronted by investigating officers, or they admit to the use of force but claim it was done in self-defense. All this in the context of a “victim” who is either complaining bitterly about a gun having been pointed at him, or perhaps bleeding out in the street.

Under these circumstances the officers usually conclude that there is at least probable cause that there exists reasonable evidence in support of a potential crime having been committed, and an arrest is made. Whether the act was done in self-defense is, from the officer’s perspective, to be determined by others further down the criminal justice “pipeline”. (For a detailed explanation of the criminal justice “pipeline” and what to expect at each step of that pipeline, see Chapter 1, “Criminal Law: What to Expect,” in “The Law of Self Defense.”).

The five states that prohibit arrest unless there is probably cause that the use of force was not done in legitimate self defense–Alabama, Florida, Kansas,  Kentucky, and Oklahoma–essentially require that the police look at both sides of the question–both the use of force as a potential crime and the justification of self-defense.

Immunity Protection from Both Criminal and Civil Liability

Ten states provide immunity protection against criminal prosecution as well as civil lawsuits. These include: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Washington. Note, however, that where a state limits the scope of its self-defense immunity statute generally–as Colorado limits its statute to use of force around one’s home–this limitation applies in the context of both criminal and civil liability.

Recovery of Attorneys Fees, Trial Expenses If Sued Anyway

If a person who used force in self-defense is nevertheless sued, and they successfully argue their claim to self-defense immunity at trial, the party suing them is subject to having to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees and other legal expenses. This rule applies in sixteen states, including Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina,  Tennessee, and Washington.

In fifteen of those states the statute provides that the court “shall” award such expenses where the defendant has successfully argued self-defense immunity. This gratifyingly takes the reimbursement of these expenses out of the hands of the trial court’s discretion. In Maryland, however, the statute only provides that the court “may” order the reimbursement of such expenses.

Odd Twists

I did come across a couple of odd twists in looking at the various states’ self-defense immunity statutes, and thought I share a couple with you.

First, Delaware appears to provide for immunity for the use of force in protection of property, but not for the use of force in self-defense. Indeed, the statute specifically references defense of another person’s property. My sense is that this statute was actually written to protect persons such as armed guards against civil liability for their use of force against robbers. Perhaps a lawyer from Delaware could provide greater context.

Second, New Jersey’s self-defense immunity law is written specific within the context of the use of a “chemical substance in self-defense” . . . and that’s it. So, if you use pepper spray or mace or something equivalent in legitimate self-defense, you seem to fall under the protection of the statute. Any other means of self-defense, whether deadly or non-deadly, would seem to place you outside that umbrella of protection.

Self-Defense Immunity Statutes of the Various United States:

Alabama
13A-3-23 Use of force in defense of a person.

Alaska

09.65.330. Immunity: Use of defensive force.

Arizona
AZ 13-413. No civil liability for justified conduct

Arkansas
5-2-621. Attempting to protect persons during commission of a felony.

Colorado
18-1-704.5. Use of deadly physical force against an intruder

Delaware
466. Justification — Use of force for the protection of property.

Florida
FL 776.032 Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

Georgia
51-11-9. Immunity from civil liability for threat or use of force in defense of habitation

Hawai’i
663-1.57. Owner to felon; limited liability

Idaho
6-808. Civil immunity for self-defense

Illinois
7-1. Use of force in defense of person.

7-2. Use of force in defense of dwelling.

7-3. Use of force in defense of other property.

Iowa
707.6 Civil liability.

Kansas
21-5231. Same; immunity from prosecution or liability; investigation.

Kentucky
503.085 Justification and criminal and civil immunity for use of permitted force

Louisiana
2800.19. Limitation of liability for use of force in defense of certain crimes

Maryland
5-808 – Civil immunity for defense of dwelling or place of business.

Michigan
600.2922b Use of deadly force or other than deadly force by individual in self-defense; immunity from civil liability.

600.2922c Individual sued for using deadly force or force other than deadly force; award of attorney fees and costs; conditions.

Missouri
563.074. Justification as an absolute defense, when.

Montana
27-1-722. Civil damages immunity for injury caused by legal use of force.

New Hampshire
627:1-a Civil Immunity.

New Jersey
2A:62A-20. Immunity from civil liability for use of chemical substance for self-defense.

North Carolina
14‑51.3. Use of force in defense of person; relief from criminal or civil liability.

North Dakota
12.1-05-07.2. Immunity from civil liability for justifiable use of force.

Ohio
2305.40 Owner, lessee, or renter of real property not liable to trespasser.
Added: 2307.60 Civil action for damages for criminal act.

Oklahoma
Added: 21-1289.25 Physical or deadly force against intruder

Pennsylvania
8340.2 Civil immunity for use of force

South Carolina
16-11-450. Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil actions; law enforcement officer exception; costs.

Tennessee
39-11-622. Justification for use of force — Exceptions — Immunity from civil liability.

Texas
83.001. Civil immunity.

Washington
Added: 9A.16.110. Defending against violent crime — reimbursement.

Wisconsin
895.62  Use of force in response to unlawful and forcible entry into a dwelling, motor vehicle, or place of business; civil liability immunity.

Wyoming
6-1-204. Immunity from civil action for justifiable use of force.

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Blacks across Florida march for unequal rights?

Oakland, CA protest with Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Photo courtesy of AP. For a larger view click on the photo.

Protests were held across Florida and the nation on Saturday, July 20th, to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported on Saturday’s protest, “Their chant said much the same thing: ‘No justice, no peace.’ We’re not going to stand by and let this man go free,’ said Trevor Harvey, president of the Sarasota County chapter of the NAACP, which is lobbying the Department of Justice to charge Zimmerman with civil rights violations.”

GulfNews.com reports, “In Miami, more than 200 people gathered for a vigil. ‘You can’t justify murder,’ read one poster. Another read ‘Don’t worry about more riots. Worry about more Zimmermans’.”

KIRO TV reports, “In Miami, Tracy Martin spoke about his son. ‘This could be any one of our children,’ he said. ‘Our mission now is to make sure that this doesn’t happen to your child.’ He recalled a promise he made to his son as he lay in his casket. ‘I will continue to fight for Trayvon until the day I die,’ he said. Shantescia Hill held a sign in Miami that read: ‘Every person deserves a safe walk home’. The 31-year-old mother, who is black, said, ‘I’m here because our children can’t even walk on the streets without fearing for their lives’.”

Are the protesters calling for unequal rights rather than equal justice under the law?

BizPac Review noted, “Shortly after President Obama surprised reporters Friday with a 20-minute statement on George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin and race relations in the U.S., Zimmerman’s defense team responded with a statement of their own.”

The Zimmerman defense team response states in part:

“This case has given the nation an opportunity to have a candid conversation about race. We would like to contribute to this discourse. Our President has clearly indicated he is willing to contribute to the discourse. As we begin this conversation, we want to say this: we cannot talk about race in sound bites. Before you cast an opinion about what the President said, be sure to listen to his comments in full. Before you judge George Zimmerman or disparage the verdict of the citizen jury, understand the facts in full. Agree not to listen to just what meets your predisposition, but to accept what exists.”

Read the full statement here.

Have race relations come full circle under America’s first black President?

Florida has a history of tragic events following the death of Blacks. Some have lead to riots. The City of Miami, in1980, saw blacks riot there and again in January 1989 and October 1995. The cause of the riots by local Blacks were against alleged cases of police brutality by the Miami Police Department and competition with Cubans, Haitians and other Latinos. Riots during 1991 in Overtown, Miami occurred in the heavily Black section against Cuban Americans, alike earlier riots there in 1982 and 1984. Finally, in 1995 citizens of St. Petersburg, Florida witnessed a riot caused by protests against racial profiling and police brutality.

Are Saturday’s protests not unlike what Florida has experience before? Historical themes in Florida are: Hispanics vs. Blacks,  Blacks vs. the law and Blacks vs. profiling.

In each case the protests, some turning violent, are founded on the idea Blacks need special protection. Is this the resurgence of the “politics of retribution“? Former Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young once characterized riots in the city as “Not riots, but ‘rebellion’.” Are we raising a new generation of Black demagogues like Young?

Tamar Jacoby, author of Someone Else´s House: America’s Unfinished Struggle for Integration (1998), argues that since Martin Luther King, Jr., although blacks have made enormous economic, political, and social progress, a true sense of community has remained elusive.

Does the politics of retribution make our communities better or worse?

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