Sen. Chris Smith, frustrated by what he calls slow movement by Gov. Rick Scott in the wake of the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, is launching a task force to review the controversial law at the center of the case.
“Instead of waiting on the governor to act, I’ve decided to lead in the state of Florida,” the Fort Lauderdale Democrat said. “I’ve assembled a task force to look at the controversial Stand Your Ground law.”
Gov. Scott has created a task force to review Stand Your Ground, but has said the group will not convene until after the investigation into the Trayvon Martin shooting is completed.
Smith wanted faster action. His South Florida-based task force, made up of legal professionals, will hold its first meeting on Thursday at 4 p.m. at a Broward County library.
Smith said local judges, attorneys and tourism officials will present to the task force on Thursday, to show how controversial law—which allows people to use deadly force when they are threatened--has impacted the state.
Currently on the task force are Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, Miami-Dade public defender Carlos Martinez, Broward State Attorney Mike Satz, former Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale police chief Frank Adderly and criminal defense attorney Alfreda Coward, scholar Zachary Weaver and others.
Nicki Grossman, director of the Broward County Convention and Visitors Bureau, will be the first person to present to the task force on Thursday. She will talk about how tourism is being affected by the negative press the state is receiving.
“The Florida brand is being portrayed in a negative light, each and every day, on all of the major networks,” said Smith, adding that he has received calls from people who are reconsidering coming to Florida because of the state’s stand your ground law.
Smith also revealed a new website to solicit public comment on stand your ground: www.FloridaStandYourGround.org.
Smith asked Scott to convene his task force right away, but the governor has said that he prefers to wait until all the facts are known.
“Right now, we need to be doing an investigation of this case,” Scott said last week in an interview. “Let’s find out what happened in this case.”
Smith, who voted against Stand Your Ground in 2005, disagrees.
“It’s time to get to work,” said Smith, who believes the Stand Your Ground law can be examined independent of the Trayvon case. “We have a governor who ran on getting to work, but he wants to wait to work."