- April 12, 2022
Pointing to the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law, an appeals court Wednesday said a South Florida man should be shielded from an aggravated-assault charge stemming from a confrontation with a tree-cutting crew.
Richard Burns was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he openly carried and loaded a gun during the confrontation in the yard of his home, according to the ruling by a panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal.
The ruling said Burns got the handgun after a member of the tree-cutting crew made sexually suggestive gestures toward Burns’ fiancee, another member waved a running chainsaw toward his dogs and the crew refused to leave the property.
A Broward County circuit judge rejected arguments that Burns should be shielded from prosecution by the “stand your ground” law.
But the appeals-court panel disagreed and directed dismissal of the charge.
“Openly carrying or displaying a firearm, and loading it by advancing a bullet in its chamber for it to be ready for use if needed, does not constitute the unjustified or threatened use of deadly force as a matter of law,” said Wednesday’s ruling, written by Judge Ed Artau and joined by Judges Cory Ciklin and Burton Conner. “Moreover, Burns had a lawful right to openly carry his firearm on his home property. Thus, Burns is entitled to immunity from prosecution for his non-deadly use of his firearm during the incident with the tree-cutting crew.”