Thursday, April 19, 2012

Florida's Governor Rick Scott Announces Task Force To Review Self-Defense/Gun Laws

Following the death of Tayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman and the outrage over the failure to arrest Zimmerman immediately after the incident, Governor Rick Scott has announced that a task force will review the state's stand your ground laws and other gun laws to issue a recommendation on how to fix the laws.
"After listening to many concerned citizens in recent days, I will call for a Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection to investigate how to make sure a tragedy such as this does not occur in the future," Scott said at the time.

The task force will study Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury, Scott has said.
It is unknown how the law may ultimately factor into the defense case of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Martin on February 26. The 28-year-old has told authorities the killing was in self-defense.

The case has raised questions about just what Stand Your Ground allows, when it applies and whether it achieves its intended effect.

A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Michael Yaki of San Francisco, said last week he will ask the agency to investigate such laws.
Considering that stand your ground has little utility outside one's residence, place of business, or vehicle, the law should be restricted to those situations.

Moreover, the person initiating the incident should not be allowed to benefit from stand your ground should another person get injured as a result of standing your ground. In other words, if person X follows Y and initiates a series of events that leads to Y's death, X cannot benefit from using stand your ground as a defense.

The law should also allow law enforcement greater latitude in investigating cases where stand your ground is considered. Stand your ground should be allowed as an affirmative defense, not preempting all criminal investigation and/or limiting investigations into potential homicides or other altercations. The fact is that law enforcement opposed stand your ground when it was proposed, but the Florida legislature pushed the legislation despite the now-confirmed fears of law enforcement that crimes would go un-investigated and criminals un-punished because of the loopholes that stand your ground enables.


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