I don’t normally read Paul Krugman, although every once in a while I check out his column to see what sort of brilliant insights I am missing. This morning was just such an occasion. The following uh, “legal analysis” (misstating Florida law, then blaming big corporations for it) served as a reminder of why I don’t read him.

Florida’s now-infamous Stand Your Ground law, which lets you shoot someone you consider threatening without facing arrest, let alone prosecution, sounds crazy — and it is. And it’s tempting to dismiss this law as the work of ignorant yahoos. But similar laws have been pushed across the nation, not by ignorant yahoos but by big corporations.

Are Floridians really allowed to shoot anyone they consider threatening without facing arrest? Wow. I mean, I see threatening looking people all the time; you should have seen the rowdy drunks carousing in Ann Arbor on Saint Patrick’s Day. It would never occur to me to shoot them, though. And what exactly is threatening? Some people think bikers look threatening. Others feel threatened by effeminate looking gay men. Or crackpot demonstrators waving “GOD HATES FAGS!” signs. Or people walking pit bulls. Or IRS auditors. And if Paul Krugman is right, then any of these people may be shot with impunity in Florida by anyone who considers them “threatening.”

No wonder so many people are upset!

It occurred to me, though, that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law might not really say what Krugman says, so I thought I would read it. I could not find any language which could be construed as allowing people to shoot “someone you consider threatening.”

776.012 Use of force in defense of person.—A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other’s imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if:

(1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony…

[…]

(3) A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

OK, I copied the above from the Wiki entry, and I realize Wiki is not 100% reliable, so I also checked the actual Florida statute. The language is identical.

I think it is fair to assume a columnist of Krugman’s standing with the resources of the New York Times behind him could use Google as I did and read the actual text of the law before making the claim that it allows anyone to shoot anyone he considers threatening. The requirement that there be a reasonable belief that deadly force is “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm” is such a far cry from being allowed to shoot “someone you consider threatening” that Krugman’s claim is ludicrous.

What I do consider threatening is the current round of attacks on self defense. Krugman ought to be ashamed of his demagoguery.

(I suspect that he is being paid to crank out what his readers want to read, though, and probably revels in their adulation. What worries me the most about Krugman is that he was once considered a leading economist…)