Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith is making good on his promise to propose substantial changes to the state’s self-defense law, known as “Stand Your Ground.”
Among other things, Senate Bill 136 would eliminate provisions that allow people found to be the aggressor in altercations to later claim “Stand Your Ground.” It also would eliminate automatic immunity, allowing law enforcement additional leeway to investigate cases where the self-defense laws are invoked. Lastly, the proposal would require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to track all “Stand Your Ground” cases.
Smith created a task force to study the issue in the wake of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. At the time, Smith said he was forced to act because the state had not. Senate Bill 136 is based on that group’s findings, Smith said.
“The tragic shooting in Sanford, Florida, earlier this year, was a call to action,” said Smith, a Democrat from Ft. Lauderdale. “It underscored the ease with which an aggressor can dodge prosecution simply by claiming fear of bodily harm. And it underscored the abuse of the law by non-law abiding citizens and the confusion law enforcement faced about its basic provisions.