Tallahassee Democrat becomes first to challenge controversial 'Stand Your Ground' law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The controversial "stand your ground" self-defense law will be challenged in the next session of the Florida Legislature by a bill filed Wednesday by Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.

The current law, which allows a person to attack assailants when they feel threatened with no duty to retreat, has been under a microscope since the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Jacksonville teen Jordan Davis have raised concerns.

The bill comes a year after Gov. Rick Scott created a task force to examine the law, but the final report offered few major suggestions and changes.

William's House Bill 4009 removes the "no duty to retreat" language in the current law, meaning it would not apply to another who pursues an assailant. He believes Stand Your Ground has been abused and a "crutch" for those who commit violent acts.

"It's our role and responsibility as outlined in the constitution of our great state to put forth laws and pass laws that we think will be for the betterment of the entire community," Rep. Williams argues.

John Philips, the attorney for the family of Jordan Davis -- the 17-year-old shot and killed in November in an apparent dispute over loud music at a gas station parking lot -- supports the bill and believes it's a step in the right direction.

"They [need to] re-define dwelling and make this about home and property protection and protection of the person, not just two people get into an altercation, and somebody gets killed that this might be a stand your ground case," said Philips.

Defense attorney Mitch Stone, who has one several cases using the law, calls the bill an "uphill battle" and does not see compromise as an option.

"I think the vast majority of the people in the state of Florida believe they have the right to defend themselves under any circumstances," said Stone.

The bill is still waiting on a sponsor in the Senate.

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