Only in Florida could a guy like Michael Dunn believe he can get away with killing an unarmed black teenager by saying he was scared.

George Zimmerman, after all, almost did.

Dunn, 45, was in Jacksonville last Friday when he and his girlfriend stopped at a gas station after his son’s wedding to purchase a bottle of wine. According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, he began arguing with some black youths in an SUV over their loud music.

Dunn wound up firing eight or nine rounds into the vehicle. Two struck 17-year-old Jordan Davis and killed him.

But rather than wait to tell the police what threat these kids posed, aside from being black and profane and blasting the car stereo, to compel him to go for his gun, Dunn and his woman hopped back into his car. The next day, they drove all the way back south, in fact, to his home in Satellite Beach, Fla., where Brevard County sheriff’s officers found and arrested him.

He has since pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges. His lawyer, Robin Lemonidis, told CNN that Dunn said he shot at the youths after seeing a gun barrel in their car window and after they cursed him out.

Jacksonville police, however, said there were no guns found in the teenagers’ vehicle.

And other facts that have been revealed so far don’t exactly paint Dunn as a paragon of responsibility – as his lawyer claims he is.

First of all, it was irresponsible for Dunn to get into an argument with teenagers he didn’t know when he was only going to be at the gas station briefly.

It was also irresponsible for Dunn to sit in his car and shoot at a bunch of kids. Even if they had a gun, it would have been unwise to provoke a shootout in a public place – and endanger even more lives.

And if Dunn truly embraced responsibility, he wouldn’t have fled the scene. He would have called the police – and his lawyer.

Yet I expect more people in this state to overreact this way, especially when it comes to black males.

That’s because despite the slaying of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin earlier this year, when Zimmerman, a self-appointed community patroller in Sanford, Fla., provoked an altercation with the unarmed Martin by stalking him because he wore a hoodie, virtually nothing has been done toward revising the “Stand Your Ground” law that allows people to kill first and claim self-defense later.

Later – as when the slain person can’t tell his or her side of the story.

After Martin’s slaying generated marches and a national uproar, Gov. Rick Scott appointed a task force to review the law. While the Republican-dominated commission made some minor recommendations, such as changing the law to discourage community watch volunteers from taking the law into their own hands, it made few major recommendations – instead leaving it to the state Legislature to make the tough decisions.

I don’t expect much will happen there – as lawmakers in this state are mostly Republican and mostly owned by the National Rifle Association – which backs the law as it is. And under the law right now, people can be immune from prosecution for using deadly force if they reasonably believe their life is in danger.

Problem is, when it comes to black males, people like Zimmerman, who is now awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges, and Dunn – from whom Stand Your Ground is a likely defense strategy – tend to act irrationally, not reasonably.

They believe they can follow black males because they don’t like what they’re wearing, or start arguments with them because they don’t like their music, and when those youths respond with hostility or immaturity, they want to claim they feel “threatened.”

Then they feel they ought to be able to shoot and kill them.

The details will continue to trickle in over Davis’ slaying during the coming days. But the fact that this guy, Dunn, believes he was justified in shooting at these unarmed black youths eight or nine times already leads me to doubt that he wasn’t responding to a real threat as much as he was overreacting to teenage obnoxiousness.

Sadly enough, in Florida, the law makes it easy for people to not have to distinguish between the two.


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