A core value we share as Americans is our right to safety. The need to walk our streets free from danger and harm is as basic as the need for clean air, shelter and food. For the past 15 years, there has been a purposeful effort to make Florida streets more secure by advancing strong public safety laws. Our determination has been effective. Since 2000, violent crime has declined by more than 30 percent, benefiting Floridians of all races. Florida has seen one of the steepest drops in violent crime rates compared to other states over the same time frame.
One of the laws passed during that time period is commonly known as “Stand Your Ground.” I was not in the Florida Legislature when the bill became law with bipartisan support, but as the current speaker of the House, I have been asked to repeal it. “Asked” is a generous term considering the threats of boycotts, union-sponsored protesters overtaking the governor’s office and Hollywood elites disparaging our state and threatening the livelihood of hard-working Floridians.
The origins of these complaints are indeed grievous. A 17-year old Floridian was killed. As a father of three beautiful children, I cannot imagine the pain that Trayvon Martin’s parents, family and friends are experiencing at their sudden loss. A common reaction is to search for answers and assign blame, yet I believe the focus of some has been misplaced on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
The fact is, George Zimmerman’s attorneys did not use “Stand Your Ground” in his defense, a detail that protesters and critics have incorrectly ignored. Nevertheless, in the wake of the Zimmerman case, “Stand Your Ground” has been challenged.