Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Fighting Florida's 'shoot first' law with Snowbirds

Well, it's an indirect battle. But a U.S. gun control group wants to target tourists (no pun intended) with ads warning them of the dangers of Florida's stand-your-ground law, which means an armed Floridian shouldn't have to run from a conflict and can instead blast away in self-defence.

An excerpt from the Toronto Star story:

The NRA says the law will make Florida safer because criminals don't know who is armed. But, then again, neither do the tourists, and 352,000 Floridians are legally allowed to carry concealed weapons.

Into this wades the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which has taken its campaign against the law to the Miami Airport, where it's passing out leaflets warning visitors of danger. They are also planning billboards and have advertised in major newspapers in Boston, Detroit and Chicago as well as the United Kingdom.

But more Canadians flock to Florida than visitors from any other country and ads in Canadian newspapers are coming.

“Do not argue unnecessarily with local people,” the leaflet warns. “If you are involved in a traffic accident or near-miss, remain in your car and keep your hands in plain sight.

“If someone appears to be angry with you, maintain to the best of your ability a positive attitude, and do not shout or make threatening gestures.”

The campaign has struck a nerve here.

“It's silly. It's false. And it's politically motivated,” says Marion Hammer, the NRA's top lobbyist in Florida.

“They've taken a sheet of paper, typed up some ridiculous things, ran it over to Jiffy Print and the TV cameras have flocked to them like they're giving away $50 bills.”

Bush called the efforts “pathetic.”

“It won't have an impact on changing visitor patterns,” he said. “But, you know, it's shameful that people would try to scare visitors when they show up, travelling hours to get to what we call paradise.”

There is no evidence yet that the “shoot first” law, which came into effect Oct. 1, has endangered anyone and its backers point to a similar scare campaign launched by anti-gun advocates when a 1987 law was passed to allow concealed weapons to be carried. Crime went down after that law.

There is also no evidence, however, to indicate the law was spurred by any injustice and the NRA makes no secret of the fact that it wants to use the law in Florida as a template for similar laws in other states.

Tue, October 11 2005 » * Big Picture Stuff, Main Page