FOX ANALYST MISREPRESENTS FLORIDA LAW, SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR SAYING BRADY CAMPAIGN SHOULD BE SUED
For Immediate Release:
Washington DC - The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence today said the Fox News Channel needs to retract comments by its legal commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano, who suggested late last week that Florida tourism companies sue the Brady Campaign for allegedly misrepresenting the new Florida Shoot First Law.
In fact, it was Judge Napolitano whose statements about the new law were completely inaccurate.
Napolitano made the comments on The Big Story on the Fox News Channel on Friday, September 30. Following Gibson’s interview with Brady Campaign attorney Daniel Vice, Judge Napolitano stated that the Brady organization was “wrong, dead wrong” that the new Florida law permits the use of deadly force in public places. Instead, according to Napolitano, “Florida residents may use deadly force when they believe that their life or property is threatened, on their own property. This is not a statute that allows you to shoot somebody during a road rage argument or in the parking lot of a drugstore…. You can stand your ground, but you have to be on your property.”
Napolitano went on to suggest that because the Brady Campaign was “intentionally misinforming people with the purpose of keeping them from coming to Florida” as tourists, “individual hotels and businesses. . .could certainly bring an action against the Brady group.”
Judge Napolitano’s statement about the Florida law was grossly inaccurate. The Shoot First law allows the use of deadly force by any person “in any. . .place where he or she has a right to be…,” not simply in defense of one’s own property. The new law allows the use of deadly force, even where the confrontation could safely be avoided, during road rage arguments, in drug store parking lots, or on any crowded urban street.
“It is bad enough that Judge Napolitano, billed as Fox News’ legal expert, would misrepresent the Florida Shoot First law,” said Brady Campaign President Michael Barnes. “It is utterly irresponsible for him to suggest that lawsuits be filed against the Brady Campaign based on his misrepresentation.”
Mr. Barnes today sent a letter to Roger Ailes, the President and CEO of Fox, asking that the news station retract the analyst’s statements and apologize. The text of the letter follows this press release.
Before the Shoot First law took effect on October 1, Floridians carrying concealed guns in public places could use those guns against perceived threats only as a last resort when safe avoidance of injury was otherwise not possible. The Shoot First law eliminates the duty to avoid the threat by walking away or seeking refuge in a safe place and, instead, allows the gun user to “shoot first” to eliminate the threat.
The Brady Campaign has launched a campaign to alert tourists to be careful to avoid confrontations with Florida residents because the Shoot First law may encourage the use of guns to settle disputes. The Campaign has placed ads in key U.S. gateway cities feeding tourists to Florida, and in selected overseas markets beginning with the United Kingdom.
October 4, 2005
Mr. Roger Ailes
Chairman and CEO
1211 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
Dear Mr. Ailes:
I am writing to call on you to retract flatly erroneous statements made by Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst, and host John Gibson, on September 30, 2005, and to request equal time to refute these statements. Further, I call on you to renounce Judge Napolitano’s damaging statement that companies “could certainly” file lawsuits against the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, based on Judge Napolitano’s completely erroneous statements of the law.
On September 30, 2005, “The Big Story” ran a story/commentary on Florida’s new Shoot First law, which changed Florida law to give the people of Florida the right to use deadly force as a first resort when they feel threatened, even in a public place. Fox News invited Brady Campaign Staff Attorney Daniel R. Vice on to “The Big Story” to discuss the law. Mr. Vice correctly described the law as allowing Floridians to use deadly force in their cars or in public.
Following Mr. Vice’s interview, John Gibson discussed the law with Judge Napolitano:
NAPOLITANO: Florida residents may use deadly force when they believe that their life or property is threatened, on their own property. This is not a statute that allows to you shoot somebody during a road rage argument or in the parking lot of a drugstore. This only...
GIBSON: The Brady group is lying?
NAPOLITANO: The Brady group is wrong, dead wrong for him to say in public, because it specifically says, only on your property. Now, the old rule was, if you were threatened on your property by someone with force, you -- and you had a place to retreat to safety, you were required, first, to retreat. The new law simply says you don’t have to retreat. You can stand your ground, but you have to be on your property.
(emphasis added). Judge Napolitano’s statement is flatly incorrect. The law specifically states that a person may use deadly force in “a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle” or “any other place where he or she has a right to be,” and this indisputably is not limited to a gun owner’s property. Florida Statutes § 776.013.
John Gibson then stated that the Brady Campaign “has so misstated the law” and Judge Napolitano responded that businesses “could certainly” file a lawsuit against the Brady Campaign in light of this alleged misstatement:
GIBSON: Since the Brady group has so misstated the law … does Mr. CEO for Visit Florida have a right to take some kind of legal action against the Brady group, to either get that ad campaign brought down or get some money from them?
NAPOLITANO: Well, he’s the head of a trade association.
NAPOLITANO: But the individual hotels and businesses that belong to his association could certainly bring an action against the Brady group and anyone that is intentionally misinforming people with the purpose of keeping them from coming to Florida and partaking of the tourism industry.
Mr. Gibson’s assertion that the Brady Campaign “misstated the law,” and Judge Napolitano’s conclusion that businesses “could certainly bring an action against the Brady group” are flatly erroneous and damaging to the Brady Campaign. As is clear from the statute, the Brady Campaign’s statements that the law allows the use of deadly force in cars and public places, and not merely on a gun owner’s property as Judge Napolitano stated, are indisputably correct.
I am sure you agree that erroneously stating that the Brady Campaign “misstated the law” to such an extent that companies “could certainly” file lawsuits against the Brady Campaign can cause serious damage to the Campaign and necessitates a retraction and apology. Please respond immediately and let me know when you will be issuing an apology and retraction and when we will have equal time to refute these erroneous and damaging statements.
Michael D. Barnes
And to think Judge Napolitano was a judge in New Jersey once upon a time........
damaging to the Brady Campaign
And his point is what? The way they have damaged the 2nd amendment?
I feel no pity for brady, none at all what so ever.
How I would respond to the Brady campain:
Dear Mr. Asshat,
Suck it and swallow, BITCH!!
Nobody who cares.
Oh and Brady should be sued!
Good job judge! If what he says scares, angers, etc.... the Brady Campaign to put out a press release and ask for an apology, then he's doing something right!
Napolitano is wrong.
So is the Brady Bunch but that's another story.
ETA: The new law merely codifies what the courts have already found in Florida. The old law used to say that you had a duty to retreat unless you were in you own home. Commonly known as the castle doctrine.
The new law removes the duty to retreat as long as you are somewhere you have a legal right to be extending the castle doctrine outside your home and property.
Dear Brady Campaign,
Shit happens. Please visit Florida soon.
Fuck you very much.
As we say in Texas, "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6."