This week, State legislators will review the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law after the George Zimmerman verdict sparked nationwide protests and a month-long protest at the Florida Capitol.
“We’re going to make a very good law better,” Republican Sen. David Simmons told The Palm Beach Post. The Altamont Springs Republican helped shape the 2005 law, but he admits it could use improvement.
The Dream Defenders will be attending the hearings. They were the protestors who held a 31-day sit-in at Gov. Rick Scott’s office after Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Simmons submitted a proposal to the Legislature for hearing this week that modifies Stand Your Ground. According to The Post, it would require sheriffs or city police departments to issue guidelines for neighborhood watch groups. The proposal would also prohibit volunteers from attempting to confront or detain someone thought to be acting improperly.
The bill would require law enforcement agencies to investigate occasions fully when force is used, and not be restricted by the Stand Your Ground statute.
Another proposal by Democratic Sen. Chris Smith goes further with stricter definitions when law enforcement can use Stand Your Ground.
Before Stand Your Ground was enacted, Floridians feeling threatened outside their homes had a “duty to retreat” whenever possible, before using force in self-defense. The law removed that requirement.
In past sessions, the Republican-led Legislature dismissed efforts to change Stand Your Ground. GOP House Speaker Will Weatherford has already said there is little reason to change the law.