Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has initiated legislation that would expand the state's Stand Your Ground law to allow armed citizens to better defend themselves from rioters and looters within the law.
The proposal would justify the use of force against individuals committing arson or looting that "results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation."
DeSantis' proposal would also create additional criminal penalties for those engaged in "violent or disorderly assemblies," make it a felony to stop traffic while protesting, and provide legal immunity to drivers who have unintentionally hurt or killed protesters.
Local governments that cut law enforcement budgets would also be unable to receive state funds.
The current Stand Your Ground law allows citizens to engage against a life-threatening attack without the duty to retreat – a requirement included in many state laws on self defense. Citizens are legally protected from local prosecutors by requiring the prosecutors to prove a citizen was not acting in self defense. Twenty-seven states have similar laws.
Critics have argued the legislation is unnecessary as Florida has not yet seen the widespread riots that have plagued other states this year and that death should not be a consequence for destroying and stealing someone's property.