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House Panel Rejects Proposal To Repeal Florida's Stand Your Ground Law

Florida Channel
Representative Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) testifying before the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee Thursday, asking lawmakers to repeal Stand Your Ground. Instead, bill failed 11-2.

A bill aiming to repeal Stand Your Ground was rejected during an almost five-hour hearing Thursday.

Many spoke in favor and against repealing the law. Among those who testified during the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting included the Dream Defenders and the National Rifle Association.

There was also the parents of  Jacksonville teenager, Jordan Davis, who was killed last year by a man claiming Stand Your Ground as well as a lawyer representing the family of another slain teen Trayvon Martin. And, speaking before state lawmakers, Tallahassee Representative Alan Williams, the bill's sponsor, asked them to repeal Stand Your Ground on behalf of those families.

“I would ask you just like we ask voters to vote for us every two years, I’m asking you to vote in the affirmative on the Stand Your Ground repeal. Let’s repeal and start over. Let’s repair the broken hearts that so many feel right now because they have lost loved ones,” said Williams.

Later, during his plea to lawmakers, Williams later said he’d even be willing to amend the bill to include a self-defense provision. But the NRA’s Marion Hammer saw that as little more than misdirection.

“HB 4003 is a repeal bill. That means it wipes out part of the statutes. It doesn’t tweak, it doesn’t amend. It doesn’t adjust, it repeals, and regardless of what the sponsor says it say, it’s a repeal bill pure and simple... the Stand Your Ground law is a good law. The Castle Doctrine is a good law. It doesn’t need to be repealed,” said Hammer.

The bill was voted down 11-2 with some of Williams’ fellow Democrats joining Republicans. Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz, who chaired the five hour hearing, said that was very telling.

“In a committee with 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats, there were only two people who fundamentally believed that we should repeal the Castle Doctrine and the Stand Your Ground law,” said Gaetz.

Meanwhile, another Stand Your Ground-related issue taken up by the committee passed 12-1. It’s a bill that would grant immunity to those who fire warning shots to protect themselves and others. It’s inspired by Marissa Alexander, a Jacksonville woman who claimed Stand Your Ground after firing a warning shot during an alleged domestic dispute. A judge later said it didn’t apply. Alexander later received a 20-year prison sentence under Florida’s 10-20-Life law.

Stay tuned to Friday's Capital Report for more on this story! CLICK HERE for the story.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on twitter @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.