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Debate Predicted “Stand Your Ground” Tragedy

March 23rd, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

Task Force to Examine “Stand Your Ground”

George Zimmerman shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, then told police the shooting was justified because he had just been attacked. During the 2005 debate on Stand Your Ground, opponents predicted such a scenario.

Our law enforcement officers will not know who attacked first,” Rep. Eleanor Sobel (D-Broward) said. “This bill creates a wild, wild west out there.”

Dan Gelber, a prosecutor at the time from Miami said the legislation would be a “dramatic change in common law.”

It legalizes dueling,” Gelber said. “It legalizes fighting to the point of death without anybody having a duty to retreat.”

Sponsor Dennis Baxley told House members that no one should have to run from a fight.

I’m sorry people, but if I’m attacked, I shouldn’t have a duty to retreat,” Baxley said in debate. “That’s a good way to get shot in the back.”

Three weeks later, the legislation became only the second bill signed into law that year.

I think it will help us continue to see lower crime rates and protect peoples’ rights,”Governor Jeb Bush said in 2005, upon signing the bill into law.

Both sponsors are now saying that the law is being misapplied in the Martin shooting, but others aren’t so sure.

State Senator Chris Smith knows that saying ‘I told you so’ won’t bring Trayvon back, but he says the law needs to be changed.

I think we need to clarify that you cannot be an instigator of an incident and then try to avail yourself of a law used for protection,” Smith said.

Governor Rick Scott has ordered a task force to look at how the Stand Your Ground law is being applied in Florida.

Any changes to the law are likely to wait until the facts of Trayvon Martin’s death are sorted out.

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