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.
Rep. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has been all over the news this week. On Monday, responding to the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, he said all remedies must be "on the table" legislatively, including allowing teachers and principals to arm themselves on school grounds.
On Tuesday, after his comments had been reported widely, Baxley issued a statement that this is a time to respect the victims. "Contrary to media reports, no specific proposals have been advanced or filed by me," he wrote.
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.
The murder of Trayvon Martin turned a spotlight on Florida's law that authorizes the use of deadly force in self-defense. The law has been widely cited as the reason why shooter George Zimmerman has not been arrested.
Marion Hammer helped craft the law. She’s the powerful lobbyist for the National Rifle Association in Florida. She’s also a grandmother who stands all of 4-feet-11-inches tall.