taken from outside source
The people of Florida will soon be able to shoot an attacker in the street and face only a minimal risk of prosecution under a new law approved by the state legislature.
In a show of strength by America's gun lobby, the law passed the state legislature by 94 votes to 20 this week, winning support from Democrats as well as Republicans.
It is expected to go into force on October 1, and is virtually certain to be signed by Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, the president's brother, who described it as "a good, commonsense, anti-crime issue".
The measure frees Floridians facing attack in a public space of the duty to try to escape before resorting to lethal force. "A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be," the bill says. Instead, they can fend off a knife attack by shooting an assailant because the law gives the right "to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so, to prevent death or great bodily harm".
Proponents say the law restores a sense of balance to Florida. "Before, if you got a 6ft 3in, 200lb rapist with a nylon stocking who was going to choke you, you couldn't use a gun on him - you could only use a stocking, and only if you could convince a jury that you were in fear of death or great bodily harm," argued Marion Hammer, a former national director of the National Rifle Association, and a prime force behind the measure.
Gun control advocates say it will return Florida to the days of the Wild West - all but giving 6 million registered gun owners a licence to kill in what is already one of the most violent states in America.
"It's a defence attorney's dream. If you get excited in the middle of the night and shoot someone in your house, and it turns out to be your cousin or a police officer, it's going to be very difficult to be charged," said Arthur Hayhoe, director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "All you have to do is say the magic words, 'I feel threatened,' and pull the trigger."
Ms Hammer said the likelihood of such incidents had been exaggerated by gun control advocates.
The new measure is the latest in a series of legal victories for America's gun lobby.
Last year, Congress allowed the expiry of a ban on assault weapons. Meanwhile, a number of states have introduced laws allowing civilians to carry concealed weapons.