Justice

Florida Lawmakers Claim ‘Stand Your Ground’ Is Pro-Woman, Despite Exemption For Domestic Violence

A father/son duo in the Florida state legislature is working hard to bring gender politics into the debate about Stand Your Ground laws. In a letter to the editor that ran in the News Herald, Sen. Don Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) argued that calling for the repeal is anti-woman.

The letter was also distributed by the National Rifle Association, and specifically by Marion Hammer, former NRA president and current Florida NRA lobbyist, to push back on calls for repeal of Stand Your Ground.

The letter’s strange claim is rendered all the more unbelievable because Florida’s Stand Your Ground law actually exempts the overwhelming majority of female victims from its so-called protections — the law does not apply to domestic violence cases. Instead of acknowledging this fact, the two lay out an emotionally manipulative argument for why stand your ground helps women feel safe:

Consider an elderly woman in a dimly lit parking lot or a college girl walking to her dorm at night. If either was attacked, her duty was to turn her back and try to flee, probably be overcome and raped or killed. Prior to “Stand Your Ground,” that victim didn’t have the choice to defend herself, to meet force with force.

Calls to repeal “Stand Your Ground” are anti-woman. Imposing a duty-to-flee places the safety of the rapist above a woman’s own life. In fact, until “Stand Your Ground” was passed, criminals were suing victims because victims, in protecting themselves, were allegedly using excessive force against the criminals.

“Stand Your Ground” simply says, if you have a right to be somewhere and if you’re not breaking the law, you may defend yourself to prevent imminent death or bodily harm. You don’t have an obligation to do so. You have the right.

Unfortunately for the Gaetzes, Stand Your Ground addresses very few of such cases. Domestic violence victims are exempt from using Stand Your Ground as protection– and in 76 percent of rape or assault cases, an intimate partner committed the crime. On top of that, nearly one out of every three women killed dies at the hands of an intimate partner. These women wouldn’t be saved by Stand Your Ground — even if Stand Your Ground were an effective way of protecting victims of crime — and they aren’t who the law was ever intended to protect.