State of Florida refuses to modify the Stand Your Ground law
Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been largely given support by a task force of 19 members commissioned by Governor Rick Scott to review the law. The task force concluded that Stand Your Ground is a good law that should stay the same. Critics of the makeup of the panel said they’re not surprised. The state of Florida often receives national attention for the task force said at the beginning of its report that the self-defense law is fine as it is.
“All persons who are conducting themselves in a lawful manner have a fundamental right to stand their ground and defend themselves from attack with proportionate force in every place they have a lawful right to be,” the report reads.
The law was given limelight last year when Trayvon Martin, a teenager, was shot to death in Sanford. The shooter, George Zimmerman, later claimed self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law.
Zimmerman was not charged at first but now awaits trial on the charges of second-degree murder. The case not only put a spotlight on the Stand Your Ground law, it also spoke volumes about the dangers of racial profiling.
Critics complained about the makeup of the task force right from the start. They predicted that no significant changes would be made to the law. The main reason for this criticism was that it consisted of two lawmakers who drafted the Stand Your Ground law and others who voted for it. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll chaired the task force. Police, lawyers and neighborhood watch volunteers were also appointed.
Katherine Fernández Rundle, Miami-Dade State attorney, one of the task force members said in a letter attached to the report, “I have also seen not only from the experiences in my office, but from the testimony of our citizens and experts who came before our task force, that the law has had some consequences which I believe were unintended.”
Another member, the vice chair of the task force, Tallahassee-based pastor Rev. R.B. Holmes, said he was concerned about inequalities in the application of the law, pointing out that it has been used to help criminals avoid prosecution and has been used in cases where a victim was shot in the back while fleeing.
“Other studies have shown that this law is associated with an increased death toll that falls disproportionately on minority groups,” Holmes wrote.
A “Million Hoodie March” vigil will take place in New York City on Tuesday, the one-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s death.