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Committee Decides: You Can't Pick A Fight And Then Stand Your Ground

Lisa Roe via Flickr
Credit Lisa Roe via Flickr

Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground self-defense law got a few unchallenged tweaks from the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday.  Developed jointly by Broward County Democrat Chris Smith and Republican David Simmons of Seminole County, the changes make it clear that no one can start a fight and then claim legal immunity under Stand Your Ground. It also creates a legal basis for wounded bystanders to file lawsuits, even when the shooting was in self-defense.  Smith, who led a task force that tried to change the law after the Trayvon Martin shooting, said he wasn't happy with all of the compromises he had to make this time, but he's glad Stand Your Ground is getting attention. 

"We've worked hard on this and we've come together to get something done this year", said Smith. "Because it would be a travesty, an absolute travesty, if this legislature ends, if this legislature does nothing to send a message on Stand Your Ground." The committee vote in favor of the changes was unanimous. Two more committees will have to sign off on the bill before it goes to the full Senate

Copyright 2014 WGCU

Rick Stone has been a journalist in Florida for most of his career. He's worked in newspapers and television but believes that nothing works as well as public radio. He and his wife, Mary Jane Stone, live in Broward County.