A 19-member task force commissioned by Gov. Rick Scott to review Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has put out
report, largely voicing its support for the law.
The task force made a handful of recommendations for the Legislature,
but began the report by stating that, at its core, 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 controversial law grants immunity to people who use
force, including deadly force, in response to a perceived threat of bodily
harm. It was thrust into the spotlight last year after Miami
Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin was
shot to death in Sanford
by a man who later claimed self-defense under Stand Your Ground. The shooter, neighborhood
watch volunteer George Zimmerman, was initially not charged, but now awaits
trial on second-degree murder charges.
Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll chaired the task force, which held statewide hearings and consisted of two lawmakers who drafted the Stand Your Ground law and others who
voted for it. Police, lawyers and neighborhood watch volunteers were also appointed. Critics blasted the group's makeup from the outset, predicting that it would not push for any significant changes to the law.
The recommendations the group did come up with include reconsidering the state’s
10-20-Life law, tightening standards for neighborhood watch groups and commissioning
a study to look into issues of racial disparities and unintended consequences
of Stand Your Ground.
The task force also urged the Legislature to consider
whether Stand Your Ground should apply when an innocent bystander is caught in
the crossfire and to clarify whether or not the law’s immunity provision prohibits
police from detaining and questioning a shooter.
Two task force members -- Miami-Dade State attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and
Tallahassee-based pastor Rev. R.B. Holmes
-- each submitted letters indicating they wished the group had pushed for more
“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,” Fernandez-Rundle wrote in a letter attached to the report. She
said the law’s “immunity” provision should be scrapped.