In 2005, Florida became the first state to pass a Stand Your Ground law, which appears to have intensified the climate that has led to the nickname "Gunshine State."
Florida's controversial "stand your ground" self defense law would be repealed provided a bill filed Wednesday by Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee passes.
The law allows a basis that there is "no duty to retreat and [one] has the right to stand one's ground and meet force with force in certain circumstances" when someone felt threatened.
The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford nearly a year ago brought the law to national attention when the 17 year old was killed by George Zimmerman while he was acting as a neighborhood watchman. Although it was expected that Zimmerman's attorneys would use the "stand your ground" defense, they have in fact chosen to use the basic self-defense as they claim Zimmerman did not have the option to retreat. The case should come to trial in June of this year.
Williams, a supporter of the Second Amendment and right to bear arms, says his legislation is aimed at removing the "no duty to retreat" language in the current law.
"Current law gives citizens the ability to use a defense of stand your ground if they felt as though their life was threatened. This law does not give them the ability to go and pursue someone they feel has threatened their lives or has caused them bodily harm," Representative Williams said. "If that individual is in retreat you can not go into the street and fire a weapon at them. What we want them to do is use the mechanism in place. Call law enforcement."
Williams says his bill does not remove a citizen's right to protect themselves if they feel their life is in danger.
"If they're in their home, at their property and they feel their property is being threatened, they have the ability to protect themselves," Rep. Williams said. "We're not taking that ability away from them. By repealing this law (stand your ground) we're putting forth language that protects not only their right to protect themselves, but the community at large." ~ Source
A long line of law enforcement officers and prosecutors opposed the law before it was enacted and have expressed deep concerns about it since, but their objections have fallen on deaf ears.
General Bill: by Williams, A.
Use of Deadly Force in Defense of a Person: Repeals provisions relating to home protection & use of deadly force, which created presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm in certain circumstances & provided that there is no duty to retreat & has the right to stand one's ground & meet force with force in certain circumstances; conforms provisions.
Effective Date: upon becoming a law
Last Event: Filed on Wednesday, January 09, 2013 7:44 AM ~ Source
After the Trayvon Martin killing, Governor Scott ordered Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll to convene a task force on citizen safety and protection as a result of the law. Hearings were conducted, but it was little more than a farce as the entire task force was stacked with proponents of the law and when the report was filed no one was surprised that it found no recommendations for a single change.
Florida "Stand your Ground" law yields some shocking outcomes depending on how law is applied, Tampa Bay Times, June 3, 2012
In the most comprehensive effort of its kind, the Tampa Bay Times has identified nearly 200 "stand your ground'' cases and their outcomes. The Times identified cases through media reports, court records and dozens of interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys across the state.
Among the findings:
• Those who invoke "stand your ground" to avoid prosecution have been extremely successful. Nearly 70 percent have gone free.
• Defendants claiming "stand your ground" are more likely to prevail if the victim is black. Seventy-three percent of those who killed a black person faced no penalty compared to 59 percent of those who killed a white.
People have had the right to defend themselves from a threat as far back as English common law. The key in Florida and many other states was that they could not use deadly force if it was reasonably possible to retreat.The article further cites examples of inconsistent and unequal treatment of the filing of charges across the state; the wide variety of interpretations of the law by police officers, prosecutors and judges; an outline of questionable cases; the increase in cases; arguments for the law's success; and an emboldening by the citizenry as the claims in cases have increased.
That changed in 2005 when Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law Florida Statute 776.013. It says a person "has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground'' if he or she thinks deadly force is necessary to prevent death, great bodily harm or commission of a forcible felony like robbery.
"Now it's lawful to stand there like Matt Dillon at high noon, pull the gun and shoot back,'' said Bob Dekle, a University of Florida law professor and former prosecutor in North Florida.
"Stand Your Ground" laws coincide with jump in justifiable-homicide cases,The Washington Post, April 7, 2012
This sharp turn in American law — expanding the right to defend one’s home from attack into a more general right to meet force with force in any public place — began in Florida in 2005 and has spread to more than 30 other states as a result of a campaign by the National Rifle Association and a corporate-backed group called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which promotes conservative bills.
Florida has been at the forefront of expanding gun rights for decades, ever since an NRA lobbyist named Marion Hammer, the NRA’s first female president, became a force in the state capitol in Tallahassee.
When she helped write the Stand Your Ground bill and circulated it, some police chiefs and other law enforcement officials warned that the measure would make it hard to convict people of murder — defendants would simply claim self-defense and challenge prosecutors to prove they were lying.
But those concerns were heavily outweighed by lawmakers’ desire to send a message to taxpayers that the justice system would no longer consider suspect those who defend themselves against attack.
Justifiable homicides in Florida have tripled, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data. Other states have seen similar increases, FBI statistics show.I am happy to see a Florida Democrat take the lead in repealing the travesty of this law. The timing is perfect and I have much hope that we will see the passage of this bill.