Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Saturday, October 22, 2016

By Aaron Deslatte, Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The parents of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis led a crowd of protesters to the Capitol Monday to warn Republican policymakers that failing to repeal Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law will haunt them at the polls this fall.

Florida’s “shoot-first” law passed in 2005 has been blamed for a rash of high-profile shootings in recent years. The law allows people who are not involved in criminal activity to stand their ground and meet force with force if they feel threatened.

Last summer, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford. Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch volunteer who got into a physical altercation with Martin, who was not armed.

This year, the law was in the middle of a legal showdown in Jacksonville after Michael Dunn was found guilty of second-degree attempted murder for shooting into a car full of teenagers and killing 17-year old Jordan Davis.

“Florida is an ‘F’ state. Right now, Florida is failing us,” Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, told a crowd of hundreds of demonstrators, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who marched the streets to the Capitol.

Sharpton called Florida “ground zero” for the gun-friendly self-defense laws that have spread to two dozen other states, making it appropriate that Florida should be where they press to reform or repeal the law.

“You have legislators saying our children can be killed based on the imaginations of others,” he said. “Protecting yourself is not having a social hallucination.”

The parents are later planning to testify before a committee, although the GOP-dominated Legislature has shown no willingness to make major changes to the law.

Last November, a House committee defeated a bill that would have repealed the law. And another measure sponsored by Sens. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, and Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, which makes minor changes to the law faces stiff opposition in the House.

“We will fight to change their minds. We will fight to change their hearts,” Smith said.

A spokesman for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, said the chamber had no plans to re-consider the repeal.

Although the law itself is unlikely to change this spring, the issue could resonate to help Democrats deliver their voters to the polls this fall. Gov. Rick Scott was singled out by several speakers over his steadfast support for the law and is facing an uphill climb to keep his job against likely Democratic opponent Charlie Crist.

Tracy Martin, Trayvon Martin’s father, said if the law isn’t changed “we’ve got to make a change in that office.”

Asked for comment, a spokesman for the governor responded with a one-sentence email: “Governor Scott supports the 2nd Amendment and Florida’s self defense laws.”

U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville Democrat, said the state had embarrassed itself with the law. “We’re here because Florida is stuck on stupid.”

Photo: LaDawna’s pics via Flickr

  • Daniel Jones

    Years ago, I was canned from a fast food job. The assistant manager was being “groomed” for a store manager position, and every single weekend (when the manager was on her days off), this bitch would feel “threatened” by someone and away they go.

    If Stand Your Ground had been around in Virginia at that point, I think the crazy twat would have killed us. This law has been excuse for and enabler of shooting sprees–but they’re legal.

    End it. Now.

  • Ed Portela

    It is the moron DemocRats who are “stuck on stupid”. If you don’t believe me, read the post from Daniel Jones that follows….

    • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

      So, Ed, you are all in favor of vigilante justice without the benefits of trial by jury – right? Now, what happens the first time a Black or Hispanic (I don’t count Zimmerman in this category) uses SYG as a defense for killing a White person? Hasn’t happened yet, but I guarantee it will. Then the “White Person Vindication Law” will finally be revoked. The problem is it will probably be replaced by allowing town and county law enforcement to “deputize” auxiliary officers and allow them to go armed.

      • idamag

        Sounds like Ed is saying this license to murder law is backed by a political party. Hmmmm.

  • idamag

    So-called stand-your-ground has replaced the lynching rope. I did a cartoon. It has four panels. In the first a shifty-eyed person, with a gun, is in a crowed mall. The mall is crowded. There is a mother and a little boy. The little boy has a balloon. In the second panel, the balloon pops. In the third panel the shifty-eyed guy shoots the child. In the fourth panel, the shifty-eyed murderer is telling the police he felt threatened and the police says, “oh, that’s okay then.”

    • FredAppell

      That’s a very colorful analogy but your critique is plausible. The SYG
      law seems to be filled with loopholes, the biggest one being the provision that states if a person perceives their life to be in danger, they are allowed to use deadly force. Perception is key here, among other things but it’s a deeply flawed provision of the law. I’d be a wealthy man if I had a dime for every time my perception was wrong.

      • plc97477

        Especially since a persons perception has a lot to do with the color of the person they are seeing. If people ever get to the place where danger is not seen in differences then maybe a stand your ground law would be tolerable but not until then.

        • FredAppell

          I agree. Some people have already given up those silly fears but many are still clinging to it. I don’t oppose the SYG law, we all have a basic right to defend ourselves but SYG is too ambiguous and it needs to be rewritten. The problem is that it’s the people with the mental acuity of a walnut walking around armed and they are the likely ones to pull the trigger in a given scenario. The minute their anxiety rises, out comes the gun and someone dies. I like your suggestion, I just don’t know if we’ll ever get there.

  • Softie

    Confusion regarding liberty may also arise because people can be “slaves to their emotions” and thus unable to make wise decisions.

  • Kbuzz

    Seems to me that if one goes back 50-60 years and picked up a Sears catalogue – Low and behold you could buy a gun and they would ship it to you. Millions of homes had guns – and there were occasions when guns should not have been used, but you can say the same about Knives, Bats, Hands & Feet (Reference Knock out game), etc., which by far outnumber those who used guns for self defense. The point is, this open-season concept about shooting people and using SYG as a defense never materialized – if it had, the numbers of shot people would be in the tens of thousands.
    A few incidences and you people want to judge the law of SYG???
    Alcohol has killed more innocent people than guns ever have, Cars even more. Laws are constantly being abused – SYG has by far saved more lives. Its up to the Judges and people to determine if a person is justified in using SYG.
    And lets be clear – Zimmerman did not use SYG in his defense.