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FL bill allows citizens to use guns in self-defense at home or in public

[JURIST] The Florida Legislature [government website] passed a new bill through both houses Tuesday giving citizens the right to use firearms to defend themselves at home or in public places if they "reasonably believe[] it is necessary to do so, to prevent death or great bodily harm" to themselves or others. The stated intent of the bill, strongly supported by the NRA [action alert on earlier version of bill], is to render statutory the supposed common law "castle doctrine" allowing a resident to use deadly force in defending their home, and to expand it to include any place where an individual "has a right to be." The bill also prohibits civil suits against individuals who meet the requirements of being attacked and using a firearm to defend themselves. One of the most controversial provisions of the legislation is its intentional abandonment of the traditional requirement to make every attempt to avoid danger before using deadly force. While not applicable in the home, individuals currently have a legal "duty to retreat" if attacked in public before using deadly force. Critics have assailed the bill as authorizing "wild west" behavior. Read the official text of Bill SB 436. Florida governor Jeb Bush is expected to sign the bill into law shortly. The St. Petersburg Times has local coverage.

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