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Following the Trayvon Martin shooting, there was a massive backlash against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law — the one that removes the duty to retreat from somewhere you have a legal right to be when being attacked by someone with deadly intent. A law which, to those without an axe to grind, makes perfect sense. And apparently, a panel that the Governor of the state of Florida commissioned with the task of figuring out if any changes to the law are needed agrees. For the most part . . .

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Created in the wake of national uproar over Trayvon Martin’s shooting death, a 19-member task force spent six months traveling the state and taking public testimony about Florida’s most controversial self-defense law.

The result? Little, if anything, will change.

The task force commissioned by Gov. Rick Scott to review the “stand your ground” law prepared its final report Tuesday, indicating that the law is mostly fine as it is.

In a report to the Legislature, the group offered up only minor tweaks to the law — including changes that could actually make it easier to claim self-defense after killing someone.

The only changes actually recommended by the panel are a refining of the definition of those who can claim the “Stand Your Ground” defense, and some language to dissuade neighborhood watch groups from “engaging in vigilantism.”

The backlash against the recommendations was as quick as it was predictable. “Gun Control Advocates” weren’t happy, mainly because they don’t like anything related to guns that doesn’t end up with the U.S. looking more like the U.K.. But rather than attacking the findings, they seem to be attacking the commissioners themselves, stating “It was a Republican-dominated commission, and it was full of people who supported ‘stand your ground’ to begin with.”

The upshot is that, for once, despite massively polarized pontification by national media, the laws weren’t subjected to a knee-jerk reaction from the state government. The untimely death of one person didn’t lead to a law change that could have condemned hundreds. I’d call that a win for “common sense.”

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  1. “laws weren’t subjected to a knee-jerk reaction from the state government. The untimely death of one person didn’t lead to a law change that could have condemned hundreds. I’d call that a win for “common sense.”

    Absolutely correct. Plus, the elected officials had their collective “ear to the ground” and made the correct recommendations.

    Kudo’s to all involved.

    • I am still not convinced. The task force was loaded with NRA members and NRA supporters. What did everyone think they were going to come up with?

      Remember that Rick Scott has the lowest approval rating of any Governor in the country, primarily because he creates these sham “task-forces” and expects people to believe that they are not partisan hacks.

      Two lawmakers who helped draft the law had seats on the task force, along with two others who voted for it in 2005. Another lawmaker appointed to the panel was the chief sponsor of a half-insane NRA-backed law prohibiting doctors from asking patients about guns. (It was ruled unconstitutional, by the way, because “First Amendment”.)

      Chris Smith was allowed a seat on the task force, I think, but everything he suggested was immediately voted down. So now Scott can sit behind the work of an NRA-sponsored “task force” and say that “We studied the problem, and found out that we were doing things … just fine.”

      Imagine if Obama appointed six Democrats and one Republican to study whether Obamacare should be scrapped. Would you applaud that result as “common sense”?

      • You’re still not convinced of what, exactly?

        Have you read the actual law? It’s pretty clear. If somebody is kicking your ass and they want to kill you, you don’t have to try to run away.

        It sounds to me like the panel could simply read. That’s all that is required to understand that it’s a sensible law.

        • I am not convinced that it was a non-partisan study group. I understand the law, and I agree with the concept of self-defense. I just don’t think that someone should be able to shoot my son because they think he might be a threat.

        • It seems something similiar to a panel of democrats (all have history of being against guns) requested by a democratic president to come up with a proposal on how to reduce gun violence. Lets use more common sense and less rhetoric…oh wait FL did and people are still upset.

      • Basically Cheap Ass Dave isn’t happy they didn’t overule legislature and make it more difficult for us to defend ourselves on the street.

        • I actually did read the report. (It is only about ten pages long, and one of those is currently blank.) One thing they did correctly was to suggest that the legislature might want to define “unlawful activity” better. Their reasoning was that you don’t need to use deadly force to defend yourself from minor traffic violations.

          Another thing they did correctly was to suggest that neighborhood watch groups not be allowed to pursue, confront, or provoke potential suspects. This seems like common sense, but it was not in the law.

          One thing they did not do was try to define the word “prosecution.” At least they pointed out, though, that it is currently not defined.

          That means in one city, if someone claims “stand your ground”, the police can’t even detain him for investigation. While in other cities, the police can arrest him and charge him, and the only thing he gains is a good defense at trial.

  2. Fantastic news. Glad they took the effort to actually research and discuss, than simply jerk their knees.

  3. The Florida “Stand Your Ground” law has been clear from its inception. Those that wanted to play politics got their just desserts. We need NOT turn and provide a target to an aggressor.

  4. Too bad open carry is illegal in florida and zimmerman wasn’t doing it. Treyvon might still be alive and there would never have been a story.I’m sure that legal recommendation is not in the report, sadly

    • Good point in theory but my guess is that he still would have been carrying concealed. I live in Virginia where open carry is legal an the LE community is well trained in the law. However, I still carry concealed except in rural areas and small towns. I think once you have a permit you end up carrying concealed as a matter of habit.

    • After reading the various reports on Trayvon ST. Skittles (from his violent past, drugs, drug dealing, school, etc) it is no surprise he was involved in a violent attack. That he died during that attack is the best possible outcome for the rest of society. It is unfortunate for George Zimmerman that there weren’t more witnesses or a security camera. In other words “Good riddance to bad rubbish”.

      • If there were more witnesses, I bet Zimmerman would get life in prison. If you jump out of your car, chase down a kid and shoot him, that is pretty much the definition of first degree murder.

        Then, at trial, when you bring up the fact that he deserved it, because he might have been a drug dealer, the judge is going to send your attorney to jail, too.

        • “If you jump out of your car, chase down a kid and shoot him, that is pretty much the definition of first degree murder.”

          1. Zimmerman didn’t “jump out of his car”. If you bother to listen to the dispatch tape, you’ll find that Zimmerman exited his car immediately after the dispatcher asked him, “which way did he run?”

          2. Zimmerman didn’t chase Martin. Zimmerman lost sight of Martin before he exited his vehicle, and didn’t see him again until the dispatch call had ended, a full two minutes later. Two minutes in fact that Martin, the high school athlete, would have had no trouble using to cover the 100 yards to his temporary residence had he chosen to do so. One cannot chase someone he cannot see.

          3. You, as many others, intentionally omit the salient point that Zimmerman shot Martin as he was being beaten in the face and head. That, and that alone, precipitated Zimmerman’s pulling the trigger.

          • That is Zimmerman’s side of the story. He could have avoided the fight just as easily (in fact, much more easily) than Trayvon could have. He chose not to, and ended up in a fist fight as a result. Are you saying that if he had been winning the fight then he would have been guilty?

            You can’t start a fist fight, and then use your gun when you start losing the fight.

        • Low Budgit is correct, of course, that if Zimmerman had used his head, he could have avoided the fight, but, he provoked it. I was one of the first to have a ‘carry’ permit when it became available in Florida in 1989. We were instructed that we had an obligation to avoid a confrontation if we were packing, you were to ‘retreat’ first and use the gun as the last resort. Zimmerman didn’t do that, he forced the issue, sorry to say, if I were on a jury I would have to vote for conviction SIMPLY because zimmerman did not uphold the intent of the law when he began his pursuit of Martin. Martin had a right to be there. If I had a chance, I would clearify the stand your ground law to include the insuing investitation ‘contain a conclusion of necessary self-defense.’ If we are going to protect our rights to carry, we must weed out those who would play cops and robbers while armed!

      • I can’t believe you said good riddance to bad rubbish. You can’t pick a fight with someone and scream he is beating me. If anyone should use the stand your group d law it should be Trayvon. Imagine someone following you. You sneak an hide and you sense he is still pursuing you. When he walks pass you, you sneak him. He was aggressively pursuing you. Its a wrap. Him or me. He’s done.

        • Incorrect. If that were true, then process servers, private investigators, journalists, and paparazzi could be lawfully attacked by those they follow. It is unlawful to physically attack someone who has not attacked you.

    • TM ambushed GZ knocking him to the ground. If, at that point, TM saw the gun while he was slamming GZ head into the sidewalk he could have grabbed it and used it on GZ.

  5. “Too bad open carry is illegal in florida and zimmerman wasn’t doing it. Treyvon might still be alive and there would never have been a story.I’m sure that legal recommendation is not in the report, sadly”

    Maybe, maybe not.

  6. “Common Sense”….. Smile when you say that…. 🙂

    I guess I took Paul’s “The Failed Strategy of Defense” piece to hart….. Carry on Sir….

  7. Is there anything in their findings that would hold a Angela Corey responsible for moving thr case forward when the law said Zimmerman could not be prosecuted? That’d be the real win.

  8. Good finding. I’m still not voting for Jeb Bush if he runs for the presidency. Two presidents from the Bush Clan are two too many.

    • Even if it’s against Hitlery Clinton? I hope the Republicans learn their lesson and stop trying to field these one-size-fits-all, please-everybody candidates (Dole, McCain, Romney or Jeb) and they grow a pair and pick someone like Allen West.

      • I will not vote for another Bush. I voted for Romney and afterwards decided it was a wasted vote. I should have written in Ron Paul, anyone libertarian, Mickey Mouse, or not voted. Rather than choosing and voting for a candidate that might be the lessor of two evils I am simply not going to support any political organization or person with bad behavior since it encourages more of it.

        • I understand and agree with your sentiment. Romney was not my first choice. Neither was Ron Paul. But I’d take either of them in a friggin heartbeat over what we got now. We can hold our breath forever waiting for the ideal candidate but what happens in the mean time? The anti-gun liberals will stick together every time and kick our asses. Like Ben Franklin said “If we don’t hang together we will most assuredly hang separately”. I’m joining a local TEA Party group and try to help improving our odds for next time.

        • barnslayer,

          It is good that you are taking action to join a group or cause you believe in. I don’t know what happens in the meantime. There are sometimes no good ways to turn. I’m a traditional-valued-leaning Independent voter and if the GOP wants my vote they need to change their attitude and behavior. As for hanging, there are times I’d rather hang alone than hang alongside snakes red or blue.

        • Aharon…. and there’s our problem. A fragmented body of gun owners who for various reasons refuse to put aside pride, unrealistic ideals, union pressure, religion, or a myriad of other minor issues come election day. Oblamer thanks all of you. You are either a gun owner or you are not. Vote pro-gun or turn them in now. There is no other way.

        • Guns are not going to be the issue, the impending financial collapse will be. Even the liberals will be tooling up when that happens.

        • Gun rights are the guidepost of our overall freedom. The economy was (or should have been) the issue in 2012 but again you have narrow minded people voting. As long as their union or their food stamps or whatever are OK they don’t care about the economy in general. They don’t realize it affects everyone. My point is the American gun owner would do better by voting pro-gun. The anti-gun candidate is most likely the one that will hurt the economy…. as we see presently.

        • Guns are not now and never will be an idol that I worship. I do not agree with an ideology that you are either a gun owner or you are not based on what others tell me are the rules and codes to be part of such a cult.

        • This has nothing to do with idolatry. (For the record I am a Baptist). It is a fact that you either own a gun or you do not own a gun. Just as it is a fact whether you own a car or house. The difference is the Bill of Rights specifically protects gun ownership. That is not a substitute or in competition with our Lord. Nor is it meant to be. BTW name just one pro-gun politician that is puts that cause ahead of God? Nobody is trying to lure you into a cult. That’s the job of the liberals and anti-gun crowd.

  9. They keep using these words “justified homicides” as if that’s a bad thing. It’s entirely the point of the law to produce “justified homicides”, it’s a law that allows a home owner the right to shoot first (if he feels threatened – and who wouldn’t in their own home if the intruders are still on site).

    And frankly, who gives a stuff about some scrote who happens to be shot dead whilst committing a burglary? So another bad guy bites the dust? Big deal.

    What annoyed the hell out of me (this task force was here on Monday) was that they had speakers from Washington who represented some lawyer groups. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but if a bunch of people representing lawyers want to protect criminals it’s because theres money in it. There’s no money in a corpse.

    And what the hell are Washington lawyers doing in Florida anyway? GTFO! You don’t live here, you have no business being here, you have absolutely no business influencing our laws that won’t affect you. Bugger off.

    • And frankly, who gives a stuff about some scrote who happens to be shot dead whilst committing a burglary?

      Kinda depends on the details, it’s possible that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will be very interested. Maybe even the President.

      As Mr. Zimmerman is learning, you might beat the rap, but you won’t beat the ride.

      • “As Mr. Zimmerman is learning, you might beat the rap, but you won’t beat the ride.”

        GZ should be able to address the government for compensation when he is acquitted since they violated his rights with this improper prosecution.

        Take the money out of social spending budgets.

  10. Can I ask something? Why does the woman with the vapid expression have a Skittles bag stuck to her mouth? I know little Trayvon was said to be eating them just before he bought the farm, but how does sticking a candy wrapper to your lips enhance one’s protest of the event and what does it signify? Also, is this a normal way to express oneself these days? Just askin’

    • I thought it was a guy with a skittles bag over his mouth. I wonder how much skittle sales have increased since the shooting.

    • The whole “there’s some kind of label plastered across my mouth” thing is a liberal way of trying to promote solidarity. Look at the occupy groups. They used dollar bills, yet they all carried Iphones. Liberals can’t stand on their own principles. The need some sort of slogan in order to work together. Look at the unions. They have their picket signs and chants. Once again, the slogan.

  11. I think a little clarification definitely goes a long way. I think this was ultimately an incident that was “too real” to be used to spearhead any kind of BS law changes- You had two flawed individuals, neither one probably needed to be there in the first place, who made bad calls, got into a scuffle, and made one individual make a fateful judgement call. I don’t see a “budding career criminal” or a “racist wanna-be cop”, I see a couple guys making bad decisions in a situation that likely wasn’t necessary to begin with.
    So, it’s good to see a rational decision, making some clearer wording, discouraging things like vigilantism (which is a good thing, no doubt), and making someone’s actions in a true life-or-death situation less likely to land them in jail, feels like something that actually might help prevent lives being lost or ruined.

    • Yes. This.

      The whole Zimmerman/Martin thing is so inflammatory because the incident was so ambiguous. And sad. All sorts of ways that confrontation could have been avoided. With just a tiny bit of clear thinking on either guy’s part, nobody would have had to die.

      At least it looks like some people are thinking clearly after the fact. That’s encouraging.

        • So what you are saying is that in America, people can shoot a white kid and get away with it?

          In all fairness, no. That is not how racism works.

          There might be a few black people sitting around cheering for violence against whites, just as there are clearly a few whites who celebrated the killing of Trayvon. But the vast majority of racism is the prejudice of assumptions.

          Zimmerman assumed Trayvon was a criminal. Jesse Jackson assumed Zimmerman had the intent to kill. Both assumptions are wrong, for the same reason. No one knows the motives of any other person.

          You are playing the same game. You assume that no one would even bother prosecuting Zimmerman if the victim had been white. This is the exact same racism that Jesse Jackson was employing: He assumed no one would bother prosecuting Zimmerman because the victim was black.

          In all fairness to Jackson, he can point to a few more examples than you can.

  12. This skittles and hoodie bullshit is getting severely old. Why not make a big deal about what shoes, socks, shirt, underwear, pants or soap he used? If all you can grab on to is a hoodie and an empty skittles bag over your mouth you need to shut the fuck up, take a step back and actually try on this crazy thing called “thinking” for a change.

    The thought of trying to make the “hoodie” something innocuous is asinine. Shitheads in hoodies commit crimes all day every day. Even merry old England has embraced the term “hoodies” for miscreants. Cry me a river for some punk in a hoodie with skittles that got shot before he beat a guy to death.

    • My rule of thumb is to pretend the colors were reversed. Or better yet, play the whole thing through in your mind as if they were both the same race.

      Remember that, based on the survivor’s side of the story, the police originally decided not to arrest anyone, and the state attorney declined to prosecute. Trayvon was tested for drugs, for example, but Zimmerman was not.

      Even if we put aside all questions of racism, anytime a Neighborhood Watch guy shoots an unarmed teenager, there needs to be an arrest and a prosecution. If he is innocent, then the judge will find him innocent.

      Because of weeks of public outcry, the police eventually decided to make an arrest, and the prosecutor eventually decided to do his job.

      As far as I am concerned, that is the end of the story. He will either be found innocent, or guilty, based on the facts of the case. The Police Chief does not get to declare his innocence, nor does Jesse Jackson get to declare his guilt.

  13. It is a good thing that the Florida Committee took an objective look at the SYG Law and reached the correct decision that the Law does not need major revision. Kudos to them!

    As for Trayvon Martin, he was a person who had gotten too “full of himself” and let his overblown ego (probably aggravated by his use of recreational drugs) goad him into making an angry assault on George Zimmerman when the intelligent thing to do would have been to proceed home as fast as possible and forget the whole matter.

    As things turned-out Martin let his ego and emotions make a decision for him that did not work out so well. Just proves a point (so often made here on TTAG) that losing your temper is the surest way to lose the fight.

    • See, to me, that is the problem with the gun law. You don’t know that the kid was angry, and you don’t know that the kid attacked Zimmerman. That is just Zimmerman’s side of the story.

      Gun blogs repeat Zimmerman’s side of the story endlessly, because it tends to support their arguments.

      I believe that if Zimmerman had not been armed, he would have stayed in his car, and let the police handle it. If he had stayed in his car, they would both be alive today.

      Instead, a teenager is dead. What if it were your son? Would you be posting on this site in support of the killer? Would you be saying that your son deserved it because of his “overblown ego?”

      Since when does overblown ego and drug use deserve a death sentence? And if it does, how are we going to survive as a society once we put to death evey teenage boy in America?

      • Yes we do know. You need to read up on the details of the incident. TM was a thug. Now he’s dead. Every criminal is someone’s son. So what.

      • “Since when does overblown ego and drug use deserve a death sentence? And if it does, how are we going to survive as a society once we put to death evey teenage boy in America?”

        It doesn’t. Trayvon Martin made a bad decision. If it was aggravated by his drug use and overblown ego, so much the worse for him and so much more a tragic waste of a life.

        You missed my point entirely. I don’t support any killing, even if “legal” under an SYG Law’s terms, but I recognize that “killing happens” and my interest is to understand why and how it might be prevented going forward.

        George Zimmerman got into a situation where the fact he was carrying legally, and his State has the SYG Law which gives him the legal right to use deadly force when attacked, felt he was in serious danger and employed the legalities in his favor to defend himself with the unfortunate consequence that Trayvon Martin was killed.

        If Trayvon Martin had for any reason gone home instead of deciding to attack George Zimmerman for whatever reason he rationalized doing so, he would not have died that night. It’s as simple as that.

        • So what you are saying is that Trayvon had the responsibility to retreat and go home, but Zimmerman did not?

          That makes no sense. Trayvon was on his way home when Zimmerman started following him. What else was he supposed to do? Run?

          Seriously, where in the law does it say that black kids are not allowed to stand their ground?

          Is that what our laws have come to? If you are a white guy with a gun, you don’t even need to follow Neighborhood Watch rules? If you are a black guy who enjoys a little weed now and then, then you have the legal responsibility to run home any time someone chases you?

          Of course not. If Trayvon had been armed, he would have had just as much right to stand his ground as Zimmerman. Maybe more.

        • You still miss the point. Looks like you are determined not to get it. I don’t care if you get it or don’t. Pissing contest terminated.

      • “Since when does overblown ego and drug use deserve a death sentence?”

        When it pins down and beats someone in the head and face for over 30 seconds with no sign of abatement.

        • Even assault and battery is not punished by death in the United States.

          If I were an attorney, I would argue that Trayvon was just defending himself. The fact that he used his fists instead of a gun does not make it any less legal.

  14. It gets tiring hearing all the mouth pieces decry any form of stand your ground. They fit the profile of “the victim” to a perfect T. Of course, these are the very same people who don’t want any of us “regular folk” to have guns, so I’m not suprised at their dislike of personal responsibility and self reliance for personal defense.

    • They don’t like us making it dangerous for them to rob, rape, murder, etc. I guess it’s racist of us to want to defend our family, ourselves and our property.

      • No, actually, I want regular folk to have guns. I just don’t want them running around my neighborhood with their little “neighborhood watch” badges and shooting random kids.

  15. That happens often, right? I’m taking it that more than a few random kids have been shot in your neighbourhood?

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