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Dave Ross

The Florida Rule

As long as the two of you are alone and in Florida, whoever survives will leave the courtroom a free man. (AP Photo/File)

The jury decided George Zimmerman was simply defending himself when he shot Trayvon Martin. So where does that verdict take us?

The prosecution tried to argue that Zimmerman was looking for trouble. “Why does this defendant get out of the car if he thinks that Trayvon Martin is a threat to him? It’s because he’s got a gun, he’s got the equalizer.”

But lots of people carry a gun for that very reason! They want to feel secure in sketchy situations. Ultimately, you carry it in case you get into a fight, and find yourself losing.

Which would mean, that if Trayvon Martin had been losing the fight, he could have shot George Zimmerman in self-defense. Of course, being only 17, it wouldn’t have been legal for him to have a handgun. But given this verdict, if he truly feared for his life, he would have been justified – in grabbing George Zimmerman’s gun.

Which brings us full circle because Zimmerman claimed it was Trayvon’s attempt to grab the gun that forced him to shoot.

So the Florida Rule boils down to this: If you notice someone following you, do not confront him. If you confront him, and make him feel threatened, he is allowed to reach for his gun and shoot you in self-defense.

However, it would also appear that if you feel threatened because you think he’s reaching for his gun, you might also be justified in reaching for your gun, or, if you don’t have one, trying grab his gun so you can shoot him in self-defense.

And as long as the two of you are alone and in Florida, whoever survives will leave the courtroom a free man.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

About the Author

Dave Ross

Dave Ross hosts the Morning News on KIRO Radio weekdays from 5-9 a.m. Dave has won the national Edward R. Murrow Award for writing five times since he started at KIRO Radio in 1978.


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