Here is a limited review of the law concerning the use of force. I am not a lawyer, and this is my opinion. In light of the possible riots that will follow a “not guilty” verdict in the Zimmerman trial, I think it prudent to review the self defense laws that may apply. The first thing to remember is that when a riot starts, the governor, sheriff, or other local official will likely declare a state of emergency. This means that he governor or other official may suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, firearms, explosives, and combustibles. (state statute 870.044)(This means that you may not be able to get ammo or fuel during any unrest, and also means that your concealed weapons permit may not be valid during the emergency. Make sure you gas up your vehicles, and stay home during the emergency. Note what the law says:
870.044 Whenever the public official declares that a state of emergency exists, the following acts shall be prohibited during the period of said emergency throughout the jurisdiction:(1) The sale of, or offer to sell, with or without consideration, any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.(2) The intentional display, after the emergency is declared, by or in any store or shop of any ammunition or gun or other firearm of any size or description.(3) The intentional possession in a public place of a firearm by any person, except a duly authorized law enforcement official or person in military service acting in the official performance of her or his duty.
When it comes to the use of force, Florida law says:
776.012: 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: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; or
treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.
A person is justified in the use of force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to prevent or terminate the other’s trespass on, or other tortious or criminal interference with, either real property other than a dwelling or personal property, lawfully in his or her possession or in the possession of another who is a member of his or her immediate family or household or of a person whose property he or she has a legal duty to protect. However, the person is justified in the use of deadly force only if he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony. A person does not have a duty to retreat if the person is in a place where he or she has a right to be.
I would think that a person walking down the street with a Molotov cocktail during a riot is about to commit the crime of arson and presents an imminent threat of great bodily injury. Keep calm, use your head, and stay safe out there.