Gun safety advocates still don’t like Senate bill loosening Stand Your Ground laws

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Friday marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African-American youth shot by George Zimmerman during a neighborhood watch in Sanford.

This week, the House Judiciary Committee is likely to take up SB 344, which attempts to loosen the state’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense laws. The bill is from Orange Park Republican Sen. Rob Bradley, a former prosecutor.

In a rare procedural move, which caught several opponents by surprise, Bradley’s bill is set to bypass the normal House subcommittee hearing, instead being taken up directly by the Judiciary Committee.

Critics say, if passed, this proposal could take Florida’s Stand Your Ground self-defense law further than any other state in the country.

SB 344 seeks to shift the burden of proof on prosecutors to prove people charged with assaulting or killing someone else under the Stand Your Ground law was not acting in self-defense. The proposal is in response to a July 2015 Florida Supreme Court ruling that burden is currently on the defendant.

In opposing the bill, gun safety advocates blast the move with a call for “Not One More Trayvon, Not One More Jordan Davis.” Davis was the 17-year-old African-American shot at a gas station in Jacksonville over loud music. Michael Dunn, Jordan’s shooter, unsuccessfully tried to invoke Stand Your Ground and was ultimately convicted. Dunn is now serving life, plus 90 years, for the crime.

Much of the concern over SB 344 focuses on a requirement for prosecutors in criminal cases under Stand Your Ground to prove a shooter guilty twice: once in front of a judge, another in front of a jury.

“It’s an insult to anyone who has ever had a loved one taken by gun violence,” says one activist group. “And it’s an embarrassment to our state. “ They say the controversial self-defense law should be accurately called “shoot first” laws, since because they invite people to “shoot first and ask questions later.”

A 2012 Texas A&M study found Stand Your Ground laws accounted for 700 additional homicides nationwide each year, particularly in communities of color, which are disproportionately subject to “justifiable” homicides. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black men are ten times more likely than white men to die by shooting. Blacks suffer more than half of all gun homicides, despite making up only 14 percent of the population.

Another Florida-based survey concluded that instances of justifiable homicide in Florida tripled since the state passed Stand Your Ground in 2005.

In the four years since Martin’s death, an increasing number of Americans have joined the movement to prevent gun violence — specifically, to protest expanding Stand Your Ground laws. During that time, no other state has passed a form of Stand Your Ground law.

Opponents of Stand Your Ground in Florida (and elsewhere) believe expanding the law would promote giving untrained civilians leeway to shoot, such as in the case of Trayvon Martin, where everyday conflicts quickly escalate into deadly shootouts as opposed to simply walking away.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


7 comments

  • ANDREW

    February 22, 2016 at 3:35 pm

    Yeah… Those extra homicides each year from stand your ground are real. And they are called JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDES. Innocent until proven guilty. This needs to pass.

  • Owen Thomas

    February 22, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    The psychotic supporters of thug violence at “Everytown for Gun Safety” (which should be renamed “THUG LIFE RULES”, want everyone to forget that Trayvon Martin was pounding a man’s head into the asphalt when that man used his gun to stop his head from being caved in. This isn’t even a “stand your ground” isse, that was pure self defense. Trayvon Martin suffered a logical consequence of assaulting a man he didn’t know was armed. Don’t be a thug, you’ll live longer!

  • John Seagull

    February 23, 2016 at 7:17 am

    The gun safety advocates, you know, the ones who actually have gun safety classes and training, are the ones who are for this. It’s the anti-rights gun ban groups like Bloomberg’s paid for women who are against it.

  • Bonum

    February 23, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    This article seems to be poorly written. Am I alone in being confused after reading?

  • Wildfire

    February 24, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    What a horribly written and terribly deceptive article.
    So many misleading points it’s revolting!

    “Friday marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old African-American youth shot by George Zimmerman during a neighborhood watch in Sanford.”

    And because Zimmerman’s ABILITY to retreat was prevented by his violent attacker: The Stand Your Ground Law played no part in Zimmerman’s defense of his actions, where he was found “NOT GUILTY” by a sworn jury.

    This video gives a much more accurate impression of Trayvon, than is commonly circulated by the media, taken just minutes before his being shot by his last victim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqLOeuBwJOI

    Had Martin not been a violent thug, that had been suspended from school AGAIN, he would have been 200 miles away that night.
    If it wasn’t for his increasingly violent behavior, why did his mother sent to him over 200 miles away, to live with his father’s girlfriend?

    If Trayvon had kept his hands to himself, he would still be alive today.

    “In opposing the bill, gun safety advocates blast the move with a call for “Not One More Trayvon, Not One More Jordan Davis.” Davis was the 17-year-old African-American shot at a gas station in Jacksonville over loud music. Michael Dunn, Jordan’s shooter, unsuccessfully tried to invoke Stand Your Ground and was ultimately convicted. Dunn is now serving life, plus 90 years, for the crime.”

    So the Stand Your Ground Law DID NOT prevent justice for an ILLEGAL ACT? So what’s the problem?

    This article isn’t from “gun safety advocates”; it’s from Anti-Freedom-Pro-CRIMINAL advocates.

    • Matt

      February 26, 2016 at 10:28 am

      Wildfire, thanks to putting out all that effort in writing a much more intelligent and informed rebuttal to the intentionally misleading article.

      • Wildfire

        February 26, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        Thank You!

Comments are closed.


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