Lawmakers discussing Stand Your Ground

Bill proposes changes to the law


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Legislature will meet Thursday to discuss whether any changes should be made to the controversial Stand Your Ground law.

The law has been brought up in some of the biggest cases in our state, including George Zimmerman, Marissa Alexander and Michael Dunn.

The hearing was scheduled after dozens of protesters sat in at the Capitol for over two weeks, demanding a special session to discuss the law.

This would be the first time in the country that a legislature has taken up a bill to repeal Stand your Ground. 

Attorney John Phillips will take his argument against the law to the Florida House Thursday along with the parents of Jordan Davis, the 17-year-old killed last year after an argument over loud music. They have been invited to speak.  Phillips said the law is flawed.

"Number one it empowers people before the bullets ever fire, they know they have this defense law and they can go a little further than what they could before it existed," said Phillips.

Michael Dunn, 45, is now facing a murder charge, but says he feared for his life. Phillips says now Davis' family fears the Stand Your Ground law could be used to exonerate Dunn.

"No matter what happens in an immunity hearing Michael Dunn will have Stand Your Ground read before the jury deliberates," Phillips said.

The Stand Your Ground law allows people to use deadly force when they feel their lives are in danger and provides immunity from prosecution or civil lawsuits.

The law is heavily supported in both chambers of the Republican-led Legislature, and House Criminal Justice Chairman Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Fort Walton Beach, says the law is keeping Floridians safe.
'"If you look at the five years leading up to the passage of the Stand Your Ground law each year the murder rate increased in our state. Since stand your ground the murder rate has decrease in our state," said Gaetz.

Some groups against Stand Your Ground are calling for removal of the "no duty to retreat" provision of the law. That means if someone is threatened, they're not legally required to try and diffuse the situation before resorting to deadly force. But Representative Gaetz says the provision is the most important part.

"I don't believe in Florida we should vest in our attacker the legal right to expect retreat from their victims," said Gaetz.