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Sen. Smith releases ‘Stand Your Ground’ recommendations

by Dara Kam | April 30th, 2012

Requiring individuals to be in imminent danger before they can use deadly force, giving law enforcement officials the ability to arrest people who claim they killed or injured someone in self-defense and sending all “Stand Your Ground” cases to a grand jury would improve Florida’s self-defense laws, according to recommendations made by Sen. Chris Smith today.

Smith convened his own task force to look into the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law in the wake of the national outcry over the death of Trayvon Martin two months ago. Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman claimed he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense, focusing attention of Florida’s first-in-the-nation law and subsequent other states’ laws that allow individuals to use deadly force when they feel threatened.

The Fort Lauderdale Democrat released a set of suggestions crafted by a panel of lawyers, judges and law professors the day before a task force set up by Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to hold its first meeting tomorrow.

Smith offered six unanimous recommendations and several others signed off on by a majority of the 18-member panel. Smith said he is giving the suggestions to Scott, his task force (headed by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, a National Rifle Association life member), and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island.

While most of the group wanted to repeal Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Smith said the majority was not large enough to include doing away with the law in its recommendations.

Instead, he offered a suite of tweaks to ensure the safety of the state’s citizens, Smith, a lawyer, said.

“No reasonable person can say this is a perfect law,” Smith told reporters at a press conference this afternoon.

The other three recommendations are:
- Educate the public and law enforcement about the law and how to do use it. Smith said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement should provide a specific set of procedures to create uniformity in how the law is applied throughout hte state.

- Create a system to track self-defense claims in Florida.

- Change the name of the statute to “Use of Force in Defense of Property” instead of its current title “Use of Force in Defense of Others.”

Smith said lawmakers should convene a special session before the regular session begins in March to change the law.

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5 Responses to “Sen. Smith releases ‘Stand Your Ground’ recommendations”

  1. Rob Says:

    These “recommendations” sow that Smith and his lackeys either don’t understand the law or the concept of self-defense, or intentionally just don’t want people to be able to realistically ever use lethal force in defending their own lives.

    First, the requirement that you actually BE in imminent danger sounds good, until you look at why no self-defense law in the US has such a requirement. Let’s say that you are at home late one night and someone breaks in. He confronts you with a gun in his hand, and threatens to shoot you. Are you in imminent danger? While most would say “yes”, the actual answer is “it depends”. What if the gun is not loaded? What if it’s not even real? In one of those cases, you actually are NOT in imminent danger, although it would be perfectly reasonable for you to believe that you are. And this is why every single self-defense law in the US, including SYG, only requires a reasonable BELIEF of imminent danger, not actual imminent danger.

    Second, renaming the law to “Use of Force in Defense of Property” is either idiotic or intentionally dishonest (probably both). As noted above, even SYG, like every single other self-defense law in the US, requires a reasonable belief of imminent serious danger to your life or the life of another innocent person. The law would in no way protect you if you used lethal force to protect property.To do so would be to commit a crime, even under SYG.

    And finally, better educating people about the law and how it works would be much more effective if anti-self-defense bigots like Smith and his lackeys didn’t spend so much time and effort spreading disinformation about it. Virtually all the misunderstanding about the law and how it works is a direct result of such efforts at dishonestly portraying the law in order to make it sound radical and dangerous. The law simply puts Florida in line with what has generally been the common law throughout almost the entire US for its whole history, and with over a dozen state and federal Supreme Court cases going back over 100 years that have consistently ruled that SYG is the common law standard in this country. Odd that it hasn’t caused problems throughout the rest of the country for the last 230+ years it’s been in force, but suddenly Florida, being one of only 6 states that didn’t have it in some form, can’t make it work.

  2. Bob in Florida Says:

    Amen Rob!

    You caught the points I was going to comment on.

  3. Women Self Defense Says:

    Hands down, this is one of the informative post you have here and would like to visit again some day. It’s a violent world that we live and a lot of times we will be in situations where we feel like we may be threatened or that we have to protect ourselves. The good news is that even though it’s a violent world out there, you have many options to use to protect yourself. One of these options is to get a pepper spray

  4. website Says:

    Wanted to drop a remark and let you know your Rss feed is not functioning today. I tried including it to my Google reader account and got nothing.

  5. DIEGO VIEJO Says:

    There is nothing wrong with Florida’s Castle Doctrine Law. In my case over the past 10 years I have a crazy black neighbor with a half dozen felonies who has publically threatened to kill me at least 6 times. He was reported to the police and they do nothing. Now I am forced to protect myself with a CWP and two buddies….Smith and Wesson. Believe me, one of them is NOT Senator Chris SMITH. If this nutcase comes nears me and threatens me with one of his 25 guns he has in his house and car, I will Stand My Ground and the results will not be pretty. You can threaten the president and land in jail, but if you constantly threaten your neighbor, nothing is done. I want justice!!

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