State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, announced Tuesday that he has formed a task force to review Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law.
Smith also announced that his FloridaStandYourGround.org ”went live on Tuesday to allow Floridians and people throughout the country to immediately begin weighing in with their experiences, thoughts and suggestions on Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.”
Stand Your Ground states that “a person is justified in the use of deadly force” if “he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”
“There is no reasonable explanation why a task force should not be assembled today,” Smith said in a press release issued Tuesday. “Floridians opening fire and claiming self defense are not waiting. Neither is the judicial system or law enforcement officers as they’re forced to render an opinion of guilt or innocence all based on the fuzzy language inherent in this statute. A thorough review of ‘Stand Your Ground’ by those on the front lines of its use and abuse is long overdue. We’re getting to work to make that happen.” (Read the full press release below.)
In a letter to Gov. Rick Scott issued last week, Smith wrote: “I was extremely disappointed in the reported response to my letter of yesterday, requesting that you expedite the convening of the special task force you first proposed to ‘thoroughly review Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law and any other laws, rules, regulations or programs that relate to public safety and citizen protection’ and to empower the Legislature to act.”
CNN’s Newsroom reported last Thursday that Scott said Stand Your Ground can only be reviewed after the Trayvon Martin case has been resolved.
“Until we let Floridians know the parameters of our civilized society, I think there is chance of a lot more instances” similar to Martin shooting, Smith said last week on CNN.
“How many other homeowners associations guards are going to ride around thinking, ‘OK, this is a good thing; I can carry a gun and I can patrol my streets’?” Smith asked.
“How many people in the streets of Florida are going to think, ‘Hey, we have this great Stand Your Ground law; I can pick a fight at the Miami Dolphins game, and when someone approaches me aggressivley I can shoot them’?” Smith added.
“This law is very clear,” state Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala who sponsored Stand Your Ground law, said last week.
“It defends you if you’re under a violent attack. If you’re the victim, you get to decide, and you get to make a response, and the overall effect has been much safer. I would hate to do anything that diminishes our citizens’ rights to protect themsleves from harm,” Baxley said.
Smith’s press release: