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Jacksonville Senator, Representatives Call To Amend Florida's Stand Your Ground Law

Cyd Hoskinson

Efforts to change Florida’s stand-your-ground law appear to be gaining momentum.

Today, State Senator Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) told a crowd gathered outside the Duval County Courthouse that bills to amend the law will be reintroduced in the state legislature this year, and she called on House and Senate leadership to give them a hearing.

“The statute as it stands today is far from offering anyone any measure of safety," said Gibson. "We believe that unless the bills are heard, no one is truly safe in the state of Florida and everyone in this state is in danger.”

Gibson says the list of recommended changes includes denying self-defense immunity to anyone who causes or starts a fight.

She is referring to George Zimmerman’s decision to disregard a police dispatcher's request that he stay in his car and not follow or confront Trayvon Martin.   Zimmerman later claimed he shot the unarmed 17-year-old in self-defense after the teenager turned and attacked him. 

Last Saturday, a six woman jury acquitted Zimmerman of second degree murder in Martin’s death.

State Representatives Mia Jones and Reggie Fullwood joined Gibson in calling for changes in the stand-your-ground law.

Among the proposed amendments:

  • Eliminate granting self-defense immunity to a defendant who goes to a fight when staying someplace safe is an option
  • Specify that immunity is not available to aggressors
  • Specify that immunity provisions don't restrict law enforcement from investigating use-of-deadly-force cases when someone claims immunity under stand-your-ground
  • Change the wording of jury instructions in stand-your-ground cases to: "justifiable use of deadly force is allowed only when a threat is imminent, and when a person cannot safely avoid the danger before resorting to the use of deadly force"
  • Require law enforcement agencies to issue guidelines for neighborhood watch programs that prohibit participants from pursuit and confrontation