Out of all of the additions to the United States Constitution, one of the most important ones is the Second Amendment. This is because the right to bear arms gives people the ability to protect their life.
For example, just recently, a 45-year-old man showed up at his ex-girlfriend’s house with a rifle after threatening to kill her. However, she thankfully had a gun of her own and used it to defend herself.
According to reports, Alejandria Guinn, a 38-year-old woman living in Zephyrhills, Florida, was startled by a late-night visit from her ex-boyfriend, Frank Harrison. In the past, he had threatened to hurt her, so when she saw him standing outside her home, armed with a rifle, she was understandably terrified.
Fortunately, Guinn also owned a gun. Fearing for her life, she scrambled to get it. Once armed, she made her way to the front door. With adrenaline pumping, she opened the door, started shooting, and managed to kill him without getting shot herself.
Unsurprisingly, Guinn’s neighbors were completely shocked by the incident. One unidentified neighbor told reporters, “things happen, but I didn’t think it would be so close to home,” adding, “it is sad. Very sad, when it comes to something like that.”
Since Guinn was clearly acting in self-defense, when the police arrived and learned what happened, she wasn’t arrested or charged with any crimes. “The victim didn’t advise [us that] she had [any domestic violence injunctions] and we are unable to locate any within our records. But according to her, he had been threatening her,” stated a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office.
“If the police determine that there’s probable cause to arrest her, then she’ll be arrested, she’ll be booked, and she’ll be given a bond,” explained attorney Bryant Camareno, who was interviewed by reporters about the case. “But what’s going to happen is they’re going to put the burden on law enforcement to make sure, if you’re going to arrest this person, that there is enough probable cause to show that the shooting was, in fact, unjustified,” he continued, noting, “I think the best case is to just avoid situations, avoid problems, [and] stay out of trouble.”
Placing the burden on the police to prove a person is guilty, rather than putting the burden on a person to prove their innocence, is the result of a new bill that was recently signed into law by the state’s Governor, Rick Scott (R), known as SB 128. According to the new law, which simply strengthens the state’s already established “Stand Your Ground” law, “once a prima facie claim of self-defense immunity from criminal prosecution has been raised by the defendant at a pretrial immunity hearing, the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence is on the party seeking to overcome the immunity from criminal prosecution provided in subsection [one].”
This means that once a person claims they acted in self-defense, and are therefore are “immune” from prosecution, it’s up to the prosecutors to prove that they’re actually guilty. Doing so ensures that gun owners acting in self-defense are afforded the same “presumption of innocence” that actual criminals already receive.
State Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart) was one of the most vocal supporters of Gov. Scott’s decision to sign the legislation into law. “If the State of Florida is going to accuse a citizen of committing a crime, the State of Florida should have the burden of proof at each and every part of the proceeding,” he reasoned in a statement released shortly after the bill was signed into law, adding, “this legislation requires the state to meet the standard of clear and convincing evidence to overcome an immunity claim.”
Rob Bradley (R-Fleming Island) also supported Scott’s decision. “A defendant always has the presumption of innocence and the state always has a burden of proof,” argued Bradley. “This fundamental premise is guaranteed in our Constitution and understood intuitively by all Floridians,” he continued, adding, “fidelity to the Constitution is our most important responsibility as legislators, and I am pleased to see this legislation earn the support of Governor Scott today.”
Despite the fact that an increasing number of states are passing “Stand Your Ground” legislation, doing so doesn’t mean gun owners are completely protected. In order to be truly protected, the burden must be on the prosecutors to prove guilt. Doing so will hopefully help avoid wrongful convictions.