Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t want to change Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, and public opinion polls and even Democrats indicate the Republican might be on safe political ground.
The self-defense law became central to the nation’s political debate over guns after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in last year’s shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens.
A group of liberal-leaning protesters has occupied the governor’s office lobby calling for immediate changes to Stand Your Ground, echoing calls from activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton.
But the exact role of Stand Your Ground in the verdict is unclear, and a new poll released last week showed 50 percent of Floridians support keeping the law intact, 31 percent want it changed and only 13 percent want a full repeal.
Though the poll was conducted by a Republican-led firm, Viewpoint Florida, the findings jibe with four other nonpartisan Florida surveys that have shown even greater support for the self-defense law, which gives a person more rights to use deadly force without having to retreat first in a confrontation.
The three Democrats who have the best shot at facing Scott in next year’s election say the law should be modified — not repealed — but they aren’t making Stand Your Ground a top issue, either.
“I don’t think it’s the litmus test for the election,” said former state Sen. Nan Rich, the only major announced candidate.
“There should be a discussion about it,” said Rich, who met Saturday with the Dream Defenders in Tallahassee. “But it’s not a litmus issue.”