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Reckless permitless-carry gun bill will put Stand Your Ground excuses on steroids | Opinion

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 3/30/2023 the Miami Herald Editorial Board, Miami Herald
People cleared out at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive after police announced a brief curfew following a pair of deadly spring break shootings in Miami Beach. © Alie Skowronski/Miami Herald/TNS People cleared out at Eighth Street and Ocean Drive after police announced a brief curfew following a pair of deadly spring break shootings in Miami Beach.

Maybe it’s not appropriate to try to save a parking spot for someone by pulling a gun.

And maybe citing a Stand Your Ground defense won’t fly if you do.

As Florida edges further and further into Wild West territory — legislators in Tallahassee have pushed ahead with a permitless-carry law for guns — there are still occasional flickers of common sense, like the case of a gun-toting Broward County woman who this week dropped her self-defense claim in a dispute over a Fort Lauderdale beach parking place.

Earlisha Harris pleaded no contest Monday to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Under a plea deal, she’ll spend two years on probation and attend a 13-week anger-management course.

Also, even though she had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, she won’t be able to carry a gun during that probationary time. Thank goodness.

The flaw in her self-defense argument, it seems, wasn’t that she stopped victim Mariam Rashwan from parking in one spot and then a second spot, though that seems pretty egregious. It was that although she claimed to feel threatened — there’s the Stand You Ground part — when Rashwan began “nudging” Harris with her car, she didn’t pull her gun out until the car had stopped moving.

And then, for good measure, she apparently took the butt of the gun and hit the driver’s side window with it, though it failed to shatter.

That anger-management course sounds like a good idea.

It’s not like Harris is alone. Stand Your Ground is pulled out for every conceivable reason. A Friday-night spring break shooting on Miami Beach earlier this month resulted in one man dying and another being injured — and another possible Stand Your Ground claim. Video circulated on social media showed people dispersing in all directions after the gunfire.

The Florida law, in case you’ve forgotten, was the first of its kind when it was passed in 2005. The law, which was backed by the National Rifle Association, eliminated a citizen’s duty to retreat before using deadly force to counter a threat of death or great bodily harm. It also gave judges an easier path to grant “immunity” to someone they deem to be acting in self-defense — before trial. It’s the same shoot-first law that came into play in the Trayvon Martin case 10 years ago.

And now we have a law that seemed greased to go through the Republican Legislature and is now headed to Gov. DeSantis’ desk that would remove requirements for a permit or training in order to carry a concealed gun. The same lawmakers who don’t trust teachers to use good judgment when talking to kids about issues of race, sexuality or gender have no issue trusting every hothead out there with a concealed weapon and no training. That makes no sense.

Florida already has enough of a problem with anger and guns — and parking places, apparently. Despite that bit of common sense that prevailed in the Broward case, Florida seems intent on embracing its image as the Gunshine State. And this proposed new law will no doubt add to our dangerous reputation.

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