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Analyzing Florida Sheriff's Call to Shoot Intruders

A Florida sheriff who recently voiced his support for homeowners shooting and killing home intruders to save the county some money might not be giving the best advice for all such situations.

Analyzing Florida Sheriff's Call to Shoot Intruders

(Lisa Schulz / Shutterstock photo)

A Florida sheriff who recently voiced his support for homeowners shooting and killing home intruders to save the county some money might not be giving the best advice for all such situations.

Speaking to the media after a home-defense episode in which an armed homeowner fired several shots at an intruder, who turned out to be a many-time repeat offender, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson insinuated that with proper training the homeowner might not have missed and saved his officers some trouble.

In fact, as Fox News reported, Johnson said residents in his county are “more than welcome” to shoot anyone who is breaking into their house.

"I guess they think they did something wrong, which they did not,” Johnson said of the homeowner who had yet to be identified. “If someone's breaking into your house, you're more than welcome to shoot them in Santa Rosa County. We prefer that you do, actually. So, whoever that was, you're not in trouble, come see us. We have a gun safety class we put on every other Saturday.”

He added that those who take his department’s course will “shoot a lot better” and possibly “save the taxpayers’ money.”

Johnson later told Fox & Friends: “I'm a cop, not a politician. If somebody breaks into your house in Santa Rosa County, and you shoot and kill him, the chances of them reoffending after that are zero. And we like those odds.”

While many Floridians loved Johnson’s statements—after all, a man’s or woman’s home is his or her castle—it’s important to remember that armed self-defense in the home is a very complex situation regardless of where you live. While Florida has both a Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground law, some attorneys warn that to draw your gun and start shooting anytime someone enters your home uninvited might not always be the best tactic.

“[Johnson’s statement] is wildly irresponsible, because it essentially encourages people to use deadly force without giving it more consideration,” Jude Faccidomo, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (FACDL), told “There’s often times that somebody is not an imminent threat to you.”

In fact, many self-defense attorneys are quick to warn that when police arrive at shootings they generally consider anyone there with a gun to be a suspect in a crime. Consequently, what seems like a cut-and-dried self-defense situation can turn into a long nightmare in the courts.

Of course, I’m not saying that defending your home with a firearm is a bad thing—far from it. In the recent Florida situation, the homeowner likely got it right in firing at the intruder. But taking a “Shoot ’em all, and let God sort ’em out” attitude, as championed by the sheriff, is likely far more likely to land you in trouble than keep you out of danger.

In the end, if you shoot someone in your home, even in self-defense, you may be arrested, handcuffed and taken to jail until everything is sorted out—which might take a long, long time. While that’s no reason to not defend yourself and your family if necessary, it is reason enough to learn the laws in your jurisdiction and weigh all the factors possible before ever using your firearm in a defensive situation.

And it’s reason enough to not blindly listen to sheriffs in search of a sound bite.


Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.

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