Stand your ground gets modest rework by Senate panelby John Kennedy | October 8th, 2013
A Florida Senate panel agreed Tuesday to modest changes to the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law, while not ruling out more sweeping steps in the wake of last summer’s George Zimmerman verdict.
The Judiciary Committee voted 7-2 to endorse a measure (CS/SB 130) that requires law enforcement agencies to develop guidelines for neighborhood watch groups and also would demand that they fully investigate any claims made using the self-defense law enacted in 2005.
Proposals to revisit stand your ground went nowhere earlier this year in the Legislature. But last summer’s acquittal of Zimmerman in the shooting 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin has renewed focus on the legislation and Tuesday’s hearing marked the first time lawmakers took a second look at how the law has been applied.
“This has truly been an effort where we have taken this issue…and reached a consensus so far,” said Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs. “If there’s more we can do later, we will do it.”
The House has shown little interest in reworking the law. But Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said he still will work toward finding agreement with supporters of the legislation on a provision more strictly defining who an aggressor is when two people meet in a violent confrontation.