House Subcommittee to Debate "Stand Your Ground" Today

Florida's convoluted gun laws are up for debate today, although not really. It kind of just felt nice to say that for a second. It's true that the criminal justice subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives will hold a five-hour hearing about Stand Your Ground, among other things. However, the discussion is only about placating a group of very upset protesters, and basically it's unlikely to do anything.

The new piece of legislation they'll discuss comes from Rep. Alan Williams, a Tallahassee Democrat. Williams wants to abolish the 2005 rule allowing use of deadly force against a perceived attacker, and revert to the expectation that potential victims "retreat to the wall." Florida common law allows people to defend themselves using whatever means necessary if they are in their own homes. The so-called Castle Doctrine isn't up for debate, then -- just the little legalistic sliver that many observers say played a role in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Nothing is expected to happen with HB4003, however. The House is controlled by Republicans, who are unlikely to accept any changes to Florida gun laws. Speaker Will Weatherford said he agreed to a discussion only because of pressure from the Dream Defenders, a group that protested the acquittal of George Zimmerman in July. After they camped outside the capitol for days, Gov. Rick Scott eventually listened to their complaints.

If the bill passes the subcommittee and the entire Florida chamber agrees, it will end up on the governor's desk.

The subcommittee will also discuss HB89, which would grant immunity to people such as Marissa Alexander, the Jacksonville woman sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot. Under the current law, anyone convicted of a felony while in possession of a firearm is required to serve three, ten, or 20 years, depending on the severity of the crime. (If someone is killed, the sentence is life.) Alexander was sentenced to 20 years for discharging her weapon in the midst of committing aggravated assault.

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Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

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