Jacob Sullum

Instead, the critics tend to focus, as the Times does, on the challenge of deciding whether Dunn reasonably believed he faced a deadly threat that could be neutralized only by shooting Davis. That sort of challenge is not unique to Florida or limited to "stand your ground" states.

The reasonable-belief standard was part of Florida's law before the state legislature eliminated the duty to retreat in 2005, and it is part of self-defense laws in states that New York Times editors no doubt consider more enlightened, such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. This standard is not some crazy idea invented by Florida gun nuts; it is the conventional approach in the United States.

As with the George Zimmerman trial, which ended in an acquittal last summer and had even less to do with "stand your ground," the Times has insisted from the beginning that the Dunn case is "another test of Florida's broad self-defense law." Having said that over and over again, the Times ran a post-verdict "news analysis" under the headline "Self-Defense Law Hung Over Florida Jury."

How much evidence did the Times offer to back up that assertion? As much as Michael Dunn offered to back up his claim that Jordan Davis had a shotgun.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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