FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Black Youth Oppose the Expansion of Shoot First Law
Yesterday, the Florida House of Representatives passed amendment HB-89, a disastrous piece of legislation that expands the scope of the state’s “Shoot First,” also known as “Stand Your Ground,” law. The warning shot measure appears to be a much needed improvement on it’s face, but we believe it will only open up the floodgates for further intimidation of Black people at the hands of vigilante gun owners and misapplication of the law. There is no way to fix “Shoot First” laws, they must be repealed.
HB-89 is a bill intended to stop abusive prosecutors from using 10-20-LIFE to prosecute people who “threaten to use deadly force” against an attacker as a means of self-defense and to stop an attack. Prosecutors, like Angela Corey, have abused the 10-20-LIFE law to over prosecute Black Floridians, such as in the case of Marissa Alexander who was not covered under “Shoot First”, when she fired a gun in self-defense to prevent her abusive ex-husband from attacking her.
Since the passage of “Shoot First” laws gun ownership has dramatically increased in Florida, more than 1.1 million Floridians now carry concealed weapons, three times as many as in 2005 when the law was passed. The law as it has been applied has allowed too many individuals to justify vigilante violence against Black people: defendants claiming “stand your ground” are more likely to prevail if the victim is Black. Of those who killed a Black person, 73% faced no penalty compared to 59% of those who killed a white person.
We have serious concerns that the “warning shot” amendment to “Shoot First” laws won’t equally protect Floridians. The “warning shot” amendment has the potential to create scenarios in which trigger-happy vigilantes could use their guns to intimidate and threaten the lives of anyone they perceive to be threatening without any legal recourse. We believe that Florida doesn’t need to pass more laws that encourage vigilantism, but should promote laws that protect citizens from violence and the threat of violence.
We are tired of legislators putting the interests of the gun lobby over the people. BYP100 supports the complete repeal of Florida’s “Shoot First” law and will continue to advocate for the implementation of Trayvon’s Law which would more effectively protect the lives of Black Floridians than “Shoot First” laws will ever be able to.
Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) is an activist member-based organization of Black 18-35 year olds, dedicated to creating justice and freedom for all Black people. We do this through building a network focused on transformative leadership development, non-violent direct action organizing, advocacy and education.