Democratic Leader Proposes Significant Changes to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" Law

After a task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott ultimately decided to make no substantial change to Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law after the Trayvon Martin shooting, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith has introduced his own changes to the law. The changes would ultimately give law enforcement more leeway to investigate a case when the law in invoked.

Smith introduced the bill, SB 136, today. Smith said it would close certain loopholes in the law. It would give police officers more power to question and detain people who claim a "Stand Your Ground" defense.

"Under this change, a person will not automatically get immunity from arrest or detention just by telling the police they had to kill or hurt someone because they feared for their life," Senator Smith in a release. "There will be an investigation into the facts, into the use of deadly force, and police will have the ability to confirm or reject the self defense story."

The bill would also no longer allow people to use a "Stand Your Ground" defense when they are the original aggressor in the case. Meaning people who originally start a confrontation would have to rely on other self defense laws.

The law would also require the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create a database tracking all "Stand Your Ground" cases.

"The tragic shooting in Sanford, Florida, earlier this year, was a call to action," read Smith's release. "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."

While normally bills sponsored by Democrats, especially on partisan issues like these, stand a snowball's chance in hell of passing in Florida's Republican controlled capital, it's possible this bill could see more traction due to the renewed national focus on gun control.

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Kyle Munzenrieder