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Three magic words

Michael Dunn leaves the courtroom after the verdict is read in Jacksonville, Fla. Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. Dunn was convicted of attempted murder in the shooting death of a teenager during an argument over loud music, but jurors could not agree on the most serious charge of first-degree murder. (The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack, Pool)

Over the weekend, a jury in Florida delivered its verdict in the so called “loud music” case – the latest case to test the state’s self-defense law.

As in the Trayvon Martin case it involved the fatal shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old teenager – except this time the jury actually convicted the shooter, Michael Dunn. And he’ll go to jail for a long time.

But Dunn was not convicted of murdering Jordan Davis, who he admits shooting through the door of the SUV where he was sitting; he was convicted for the attempted murder of the other teenagers in the SUV who didn’t die.

The jury deadlocked on the murder charge because Florida law says you can legally kill anyone anywhere who you think might kill you – even though the threat in this case amounted to angry obscenities. You don’t have a duty to retreat. You can invoke the three magic words- “I felt threatened.”

So now what?

There’s no way to prove or disprove that someone truly feels threatened without somehow climbing inside his mind.

But there can’t be any debate that once Dunn fired that first bullet, that unarmed teenager had every right to feel threatened.

Yet under Florida law, he was legally prohibited from carrying a gun for self-defense. So maybe Florida needs to lower the minimum age for teenagers to arm themselves. In fact, on a website called “” a columnist argues the NRA itself ought to campaign for lowering the age to 15.

Or heck – as long as we’re going back to the 18th century, why not pistols at twenty paces?

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