Florida Hearing On Repeal Of Stand Your Ground Is Nov. 7th

Florida State Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) has confirmed that a highly-anticipated hearing before the Criminal Justice Subcommittee on a bill filed in August – SB 4003 – calling for a full repeal of the state’s notorious “stand-your-ground” law, will take place in Tallahassee on November 7th. Stand your ground law opponents, including the young activist group Dream Defenders, are expected to attend the hearing.

Senator Alan Williams (D-Miami)
Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee)

WFSU broke the news that Williams, during a stand your ground forum held Thursday at his alma mater, Florida A & M University, said that he’s looking forward to the first week of November. The hearing on SB 4003 was originally expected to be held in October, but, due to other commitments, Williams, the author, would have been unavailable to attend.

WFSU also confirmed the repeal bill hearing with committee chairman Matt Gaetz’s office. Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) has been infamously quoted as saying he will not change “one damn comma” in the state’s stand-your-ground law. And so far, most efforts to change the law have been blocked.

Senator Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach)
Senator Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach)

Florida’s stand your ground law is now under fire on three fronts. A bill was recently approved by the Judiciary Committee that combines elements of two separate bills filed by Senator David Simmons (R-Altamonte Springs) and Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale), creating guidelines on deadly force and self-defense for neighborhood watch groups.

That legislation, SB 130, still has to go through the Criminal Justice, Community Affairs, and Rules Committees. The Williams bill, SB 4003, would still have to go to the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and Judiciary Committee.

Also, Senator Dwight Bullard (D-Orlando) filed a bill on October 15 – SB 270 – that he says would “tie up loose ends” in SB 130, and includes a provision affecting injury to bystanders. The new Bullard bill would limit stand your ground law to instances in which the attacker commits an overt act that leads the person who is attacked to believe it’s necessary to meet force with force, and immunity from civil and criminal liability for use of deadly force would not apply if the person injures an innocent bystander .

In an interview with WFSU, Bullard voiced concerns about loopholes and how the term “aggressor” is used in the language of SB 130, and said he wants to make the law clear that an aggressor “is someone engaged in an overt act of violence, such as brandishing a weapon…but, it would also again switch up that aggressor language so that one could not be provoked and then upon provocation, choose to defend themselves, and then the person who did the provoking is able to use deadly force—that little loophole is what led to the unfortunate acquittal of George Zimmerman,” he said.

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