Though I often sing the praises of the land of sunshine and share photos of the beautiful things I see in my little corner of La Florida ("Flowery Land" as Ponce de Leon named Florida), there is a price to pay for living in paradise. And I'm not talking about hurricanes, fire ants and alligators. It's crime, so much crime. Coming from a rural community in the Midwest where we didn't even lock our doors when we went on vacation, the amount of crime in Florida has been a shock. Within two weeks of moving here we had the stereo stolen from our car, which taught us the value of locking the doors of our vehicles. Every day there are crimes committed- home invasions, road rage shootings and stabbings, burglaries, robberies, murders, child molestation and abuse, elder abuse, car thefts- and we can't forget the random face eating incident in Miami. I no longer carry a purse when I'm out alone because there have been too many local purse snatchings, sometimes the snatchers are in cars and drag old ladies across parking lots. In the local mall people have had necklaces jerked right off their necks. Often people are robbed of their medications after they leave drug stores. Home break-ins are so common we're told to keep our drapes and blinds closed so would be burglars can't see that we have laptops, tablets, and flat screen HD TVs.
Evidently Florida leaders have decided the best way to fight crime is to have very loose gun regulations and encourage people to take the law into their own hands by issuing concealed weapon permits in record numbers, and then there's the Stand Your Ground nonsense. Protecting yourself in your own home and on your own property is one thing, but Stand Your Ground allows you to kill someone in public places if you feel they intend to do you serious personal harm (and if there are conveniently no live witnesses to contradict you). Though George Zimmerman has yet to use the SYG defense it's been speculated that he will.
Not long after the killing of Trayvon Martin, 17 year old Jordan Davis was gunned down for playing his music too loud by 46 yr. old Michael Dunn. According to an article by Rolling Stones, Mr. Dunn told police "They defied my orders. What was I supposed to do if they wouldn't listen? " and he invoked the SYG law as his defense.
Another tool used against crime is the popular Neighborhood Watch program which we have in the senior community where I live. George Zimmerman identified himself as captain of his neighborhood watch group, but according to an online news article "a statement released by the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) — the parent organization of USAonWatch-Neighborhood Watch — it has been revealed that Zimmerman was not a member of any group recognized by the organization. Zimmerman violated the central tenets of Neighborhood Watch by following Martin, confronting him and carrying a concealed weapon." Evidently Zimmerman's HOA had their own private neighborhood watch and they have already made financial settlement with the Martin family for the wrongful death of Trayvon. Which leaves me wondering if I, as a member of our HOA, can be held liable for the actions of our old coots who ride around the neighborhood at night in their golf carts looking for evil doers.
I don't know what the answer is to crime (well, I have some ideas but that would take a major over haul of our judicial system and department of corrections, plus well funded education and diversion programs but we'd rather spend our tax dollars locking people up which is a whole 'nother discussion). I get that people are scared. Hell, I'm scared! We've been the victim of several minor crimes since we moved to Florida. Our home has even been hit by random gun fire. I'm very aware and afraid of crime, but I don't think carrying a concealed weapon and using the SYG law is going to make me feel or be any safer. In fact, I'm even more afraid of people like George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn who are carrying concealed weapons.
Just last weekend my next door neighbor's home was broke into and robbed as he was sleeping. Right next door! Snowbirds' empty homes are always a target in the summer months but my neighbor's home wasn't empty- his car was in the driveway, lights were on both inside and out. Someone brazenly broke into his home even though it was obvious he was there. Now that's scary. I'm just glad he slept through it and didn't have an encounter with the intruder. My advice to him was to get a dog. Even though poor neurotic Isabella would be no protection, she would bark her damn head off at anyone who tried to climb through one of our windows. With that in mind I made a little flyer that I taped to my lanai door-