State Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), a strong proponent of changing Stand Your Ground, says constituencies outside of South Florida are particularly opposed to any conversation about amending the law or gun control regulations.
The panel charged by Gov. Rick Scott with reviewing the state's 'stand your ground' self-defense law did not recommend any major changes to the statute, although it did make suggestions for tweaks by the Legislature in the upcoming session. The basic premise of the law isn't challenged in the final report released Friday. Scott's Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection included lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, representatives of minority communities and law enforcement.
With lawmakers taking a new look at Florida's "stand your ground" law, the mother of the young man whose death brought the law back into focus urged lawmakers Wednesday to repeal it.
"How many lives do we have to lose?" Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, asked outside the legislative chambers. "How many children have to be killed? How many times are we going to bury our loved ones and not do anything about it?"
If a stranger attacks you inside your own home, the law has always permitted you to defend yourself. On the other hand, if an altercation breaks out in public, the law requires you to try to retreat. At least, that's what it used to do.
In 2005, Florida became the first of nearly two-dozen states to pass a "stand your ground" law that removed the requirement to retreat. If you felt at risk of harm in a park or on the street, you could use lethal force to defend yourself. The shooting of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford drew national attention to these laws.
Picking a fight with the gun lobby and legislative Republicans, State Sen. Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale) has introduced a bill that would substantially reduce the protections Florida's stand-your-ground law offers to armed citizens.
The law -- controversial because of its application in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin this year by a neighborhood watch volunteer -- allows the use of deadly force by someone who feels threatened. It also prevents police from arresting stand-your-ground shooters in many cases.
A fatal shooting in Jacksonville last week may lead to new scrutiny of Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense law.
The story is that Michael Dunn, 45, a white software developer from Satellite Beach, went with a gun to the window of an SUV in a parking lot to ask that the black teens inside lower the volume of their music. Reportedly, hot words were exchanged and Dunn fired eight times, killing 17-year-old Jordan Davis.
Investigators said no weapons were found in the SUV.
"George Zimmerman's murder trial in the death of Trayvon Martin was set for June 10 during a hearing in court this morning," the Orlando Sentinel reports. Attorneys expect the trial will take about three weeks, the newspaper adds.