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Don’t Expect Much Change in Stand Your Ground Law as Scott Panel Completes Work

| November 14, 2012

That sculpture would be banned in most parts of Florida. (Zach Petersen)

A group tasked by Gov. Rick Scott with reviewing the state’s “stand your ground” self defense law appears unlikely to recommend any major revamping of the statute, although it will make suggestions for additional study by lawmakers.

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The panel, meeting Tuesday in Pensacola, worked on a draft report that largely would urge lawmakers to look more carefully at couple of particular concerns about areas of the law that may be vague. The panel was created to review the law in the wake of the case in which neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin.

The basic premise of the law isn’t being challenged by the panel, which includes lawmakers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, representatives of minority communities and law enforcement. The law essentially allows anyone who feels that their life or someone else’s life is in danger while out in public to meet the threat of force with force. If they claim that was the situation, they can go to a hearing before a judge and get a ruling on that issue without ever going to trial.

The governor’s Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection does want lawmakers to look more carefully at the part of the law that says that the presumption of justifiable self defense doesn’t apply when the person who uses defensive force is engaged in “unlawful activity.”

That phrase may be too vague, the panel determined after hearing several “what if” scenarios and testimony that the decision about what unlawful activity is may vary in different parts of the state. One question that arose was whether that could mean, for example, that an immigrant in the country illegally wouldn’t be able to claim self defense under the law.

Task force members said Tuesday that they didn’t completely agree on what ought to constitute unlawful activity, but said the Legislature may want to look at tightening the definition.

Another issue that drew much attention on Tuesday was what the process for law enforcement is when dealing with situations where a shooters claims they’ve stood their ground in self defense. The panel spent much of the morning discussing whether law enforcement may detain someone who is involved in a shooting and claims to have been shooting in self defense.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, the original sponsor of the bill and a member of the panel, said the whole point was to prevent people from having to “lawyer up” to fight the state in such cases when “they’ve done the right thing.”

But law enforcement officials say they still need to investigate whether the person’s claim is true, and may need to take fingerprints, example.

The group’s report is due by the start of the legislative session in March.

–David Royse, News Service of Florida

6 Responses for “Don’t Expect Much Change in Stand Your Ground Law as Scott Panel Completes Work”

  1. BHirsh says:

    “That sculpture would be banned in most parts of Florida. (Zach Petersen)”

    That sculpture should be melted down and recycled into serviceable handguns.

  2. "My Daily Rant" says:

    Best law on the books,People have the right to defend themselfs.Why Minorites are on the panel disturbs me, they are usally the ones we are defending ourselfs from.REMEMBER IF YOU OUTLAW GUNS ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE GUNS. PEACE

  3. Dennis says:

    We have plenty of laws on the books that deal with the misuse of firearms and other weapons.
    Those are the ones that need revision and enforcement, not keeping law abiding citizens from exercising their Constitutionally recognized Right to bear arms.

    Glad they aren’t apparently going to mess with SYG. It is good, though a Vermont-like approach would be better, if not more Constitutional.

  4. Abe Woosley says:

    The current gun laws are extremely sufficient and wisely crafted. It is only the unending dream of the liberal left to remove gun ownership from the public so the government can then have total control of the helpless public.

  5. hipshotpercusion says:

    I live in South West Central FL and I habitually carry a handgun for protection from 2 legged critters as well as 4 legged ones. We have problems with both kinds. Also, as Robert A. Heinlein once opined…”An armed society is a polite society.”

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