Democrats decry change to ‘stand your ground’ law


A critic of the state’s “stand your ground” law Wednesday said a change to the law now moving through the Legislature will “make it easier for people to murder other human beings.”

Lawmakers now are considering shifting the burden to prosecutors, making them disprove a claim of self-defense. Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat, called that making “a bad law worse.”

He appeared with several fellow Democrats at a morning press conference in the Capitol.

The stand your ground law, enacted in 2005, allows people who are attacked to counter deadly force with deadly force in self-defense without any requirement that they flee.

The House on Tuesday amended a Senate measure (SB 128) to change the burden of proof to overcome self-defense to “clear and convincing evidence,” a lower threshold than the Senate’s “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

But lowering the burden won’t help the bill, Thurston told reporters, because the problem is with the burden’s shifting: Essentially forcing prosecutors to prove a negative.

Rep. Kamia Brown, an Orlando Democrat, added that the move will incentivize domestic abusers “to finish the job.”

“Why not go all the way … there won’t be anyone around to dispute” a stand your ground defense, she said.

And Rep. Bobby DuBose, another Fort Lauderdale Democrat, said it will embolden gang members “to pick on the competition” with impunity under the cover of a stand your ground defense.

Specifically, the Senate bill—sponsored by Fleming Island Republican Rob Bradley—would require prosecutors to show “that a defendant is not immune from prosecution.”

It’s in reaction to a state Supreme Court decision that put the onus on the defendant to show self-defense under the stand your ground law.

The House is scheduled to vote on the amended bill later Wednesday, sending it back to the Senate.

A Periscope video of the press conference can be viewed below:


Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


  • Reginald Hafner

    April 6, 2017 at 8:17 am

    The burden of proof is upon the state, not the accused. It appears the liberal jackasses on the Florida Supreme Court and Democrat dimwits have not read the Constitution of the United States that the accused is presumed innocent until decided otherwise by a jury of his/her peers, not prosecutors and judges with a political agenda.

  • Ealey

    April 6, 2017 at 10:22 am

    In 2005 when the Stand Your Ground law was being debated, I thought the concept, as stated, was so ludicrous that I didn’t think it had a chance. How wrong I was. Now, they want to encourage racist, criminals and police to be more trigger happy.

  • Geoff

    April 6, 2017 at 11:38 am

    It has always been “innocent until proved guilty”.
    They want it the other way, “GUILTY until proved innocent”.

    • Sam Adams

      April 9, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      No, it hasn’t. That is the problem. A person who is compelled to defend themselves should not have to prove they did NOT commit a crime. A prosecutor should have to show that you DID before an arrest is made. Reputation, cost and confinement should not be an automatic result of taking a life unless it actually was unlawful.

      We really need to get past the idea that ALL human life is precious. After all most of you are fine with killing unborn children–of course you pretend those are NOT human lives (without explaining the magic that suddenly and mysteriously makes them human lives when they are FULLY outside and ONLY when fully outside the mother’s body) so killing a criminal threatening violence should be easy—but yet you all balk at it. And I keep wondering why?

      Why is a dead victim more righteous than a living defender who took the life of the attacker? I sure would love that explained while you are explaining how one mysteriously becomes imbued with humanity upon full delivery from the mother.

      BTW, the police can STILL place an arrest if they find the alleged defender acted unlawfully and there is evidence supporting that position; its just the arrest can’t be automatic just because someone was shot.

      SamAdams1776 III
      Oath Keeper

  • Chip in Florida

    April 7, 2017 at 9:09 am

    Sen. Thurston,

    You claim this law is ‘ making a bad law worse.’ How did you come to that conclusion? Are you not aware of how the U.S. Legal system is supposed to work? Have you never heard of the saying “innocent until proven otherwise?” Why would you think honoring that simple idea, the very basis of our legal system, to be a bad thing?

    Because you seem to be completely unaware of how innocence and guilt work in this great nation I shall be forced to spend a great deal of time and effort campaigning against you in the next election. People like you should not be allowed anywhere near political power, you do not know what you are doing.

Comments are closed.


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