U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Florida Governor DeSantis’ administration is proposing a legislative fix to allow innocents to defend themselves and their property against rioting groups. The legislation targets violence by groups against private property and the flow of vehicular traffic, among other things.
2020 has been torn by violent riots in many Democrat-controlled cities. One of the favored tactics by rioters, to gain attention, disturb the peace of uninvolved people, and demonstrate their power, is to take over public spaces, and destroy public and private property. Part of this tactic has been to block the public roads, detain and threaten vehicular traffic, to provoke motorists into action out of panic, then claiming the rioters are acting in self-defense when they beat, shoot, or kill the motorists.
The proposal would also increase criminal penalties for people involved in “disorderly assemblies,” make it a third-degree felony to block traffic during protests and provide immunity to drivers who “unintentionally” hit protesters blocking traffic.
“One of the pros is that it creates immunity and protection for people who have to escape from a violent encounter if their car is surrounded, for example,” constitutional attorney Eric Friday told News4Jax, saying there are positives and negatives in the draft legislation.
The Bill of Rights includes, in the First Amendment the right of the people to peaceable assembly. From the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo does not seem to have read the First Amendment. He asked where it said protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful:
“And please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.”
There is no right to destroy property and violate the rights of other people, not in a Constitutional republic designed to protect individuals and their rights. The ever-changing dogma of the Left does not believe in individual rights or private property. They believe in government power.
Sometimes the riots have been aided by local governments who prevent police action. It is generally illegal to block public roads, but, in most jurisdictions, pedestrians have the right of way.
If demonstrators have obtained a permit for a demonstration which includes the public right of ways, such as streets, roads, or highways, it is legal for them to block the roads. In Texas, it is legal for them to do so without a permit until the police have ordered them to leave the roadway.
This leaves motorists who happen upon people blocking roads in a legal quandary. Do they allow mobs to block them, essentially detaining them against their will, and making them vulnerable to harassment, destruction of their vehicle, beating or death; or do they use the power of their vehicle or private arms to escape the illegal confinement?
Private conveyances have become such an integral part of daily life, the laws have not addressed the potential of masses of people to detain and attack strangers while loudly proclaiming their innocence, for obscure political reasons, primarily meant to destroy the existing political order.
The proposed Florida legislation by Governor DeSantis would be in Chapter 870 of the Florida statutes. Here are the highlights:
Violent or disorderly assemblies are defined as those who act with at least six others, knowing the conduct of the assembly:
- creates an immediate danger of damage to property or injury to persons
- substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government functions or services
- by force, the threat of force, or physical action deprives any person of a legal right or disturbs any person in the enjoyment of a legal right
- It is a defense to prosecution of the assembly was first peaceful, that when one of those assembled manifested an intent to engage in prohibited conduct, a person retires from the assembly
As for vehicles:
- A person may not obstruct or interfere with the regular flow of vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway during a protest or demonstration (without a permit)
- A motor vehicle operator who unintentionally causes injury or death to a person who obstructs or interferes with the regular flow of traffic, in such circumstance, is not liable for such injury or death.
There is more, such as:
- making it illegal for people to throw things at others during such assemblies or protests
- removing benefits from people who are convicted of participating in such violent assemblies or protests
- firing government employees who participate in them.
If public highways and roads are to be legally used for protests, they need to follow existing rules. Those generally require notice be given in advance, bonds posted, and roads blocked prior to the protests, to protect both protestors and motorists.
The proposed legislation seems a reasonable means to allow legal defenses against organized groups of agitators.
There is no right to destroy property and endanger others to enforce a mob’s will against the majority.
The ability to travel in reasonable safety is a hallmark of civilization. The blocking of public right of ways without legal consequences shows mob rule and the breakdown of the civil order.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.