Politics | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

'Stand Your Ground' Still Standing

By: Andy Alcock; Matt Galka Email
By: Andy Alcock; Matt Galka Email
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By: Matt Galka
November 7, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Thursday's House Judicial Subcommittee hearing lasted every minute of the five hours it was scheduled for.

House Democrat Alan Williams (D-Tallahassee) presented HB 4003. The bill would repeal Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law. He took questions from House members including committee chairman Matt Gaetz who said he had no intention of changing the law earlier this year when the subcommittee hearing was ordered.

Dozens of people spoke for and against the bill including the parents of a slain child in Jacksonville and the Dream Defenders. Their Capitol occupation over the summer for more than a month was part of the reason the hearing was held.

Only two members of the 13 member committee voted for the bill.

"We owe it to the citizens of the state to make sure that we have, if not a perfect law, a better law," said Rep. Williams after the hearing concluded.

Gaetz stood firmly by his decision to not change the law.

"I fundamentally believe that the 'Stand Your Ground' law, as written, keeps our state safe. That's what statistics show, that's what the anecdotal evidence seems to represent," said Gaetz. He also added that the posters the Dream Defenders brought that showed a picture of a comma were "clever."

"We go back to the drawing board, we're not lawmakers so, there's a Senate hearing in January on the Senate side-- we're going to keep fighting for progress," said the Dream Defenders lead man Phillip Agnew.

The committee did pass a bill through that would grant immunity to a person who fired a warning shot during an altercation where they felt they were in grave danger.


By: Matt Galka
November 7, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - A bill to repeal Florida's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law is being debated in a state house subcommittee. First, the subcommittee heard arguments for house bill 89, which could grant immunity to a person who fired warning shots if it was determined they were in grave danger. That bill made it through the committee.

Democrat Alan Williams then presented house bill 4003, which would repeal stand your ground. No members of the republican controlled house spoke for the bill, 5 spoke against it. This hearing was brought on thanks in part to the dream defenders sit in at the Capitol. The youth group demanded that the Stand Your Ground law be repealed following the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict. They occupied Florida's Capitol for over a month this past summer.

The committee chairman, Matt Gaetz, has said he has no intention of changing the law. Earlier this year, Gaetz said he wouldn't move one blank comma on the Stand Your Ground law.

Many cited that Florida's crime rate is the lowest it has been in 42 years.


Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida legislators are expected to take a vote on whether to repeal the state's contentious "stand your ground" law.

A House committee has scheduled a five-hour hearing on Thursday to consider two bills dealing with guns.

One of the bills up for consideration would repeal the eight-year-old law that allows the use of deadly force if someone believes his or her life is in jeopardy. HB 4003 is sponsored by Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee.

It is expected that House Republicans will vote down the bill. House Speaker Will Weatherford agreed to hold a hearing on the "stand your ground" law this summer.

The House committee is also scheduled to take up a separate measure that would allow people who fire warning shots to avoid being charged under Florida's "10-20-Life" sentencing law.


By: Andy Alcock
November 6, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - There's a renewed push to make changes to Florida's controversial "stand your ground law".

Wednesday, Democrats in the state house said they want a bi-partisan compromise.

Democrats say they strongly believe changes are needed to that law.

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston points to a bi-partisan bill currently making its way through the Senate as a model for the House.

That proposal is from Republican Senator David Simmons and Democratic Minority Leader Chris Smith.

The measure would better define neighborhood watch operations, immunity for someone provoking deadly confrontations and the authority of law enforcement to investigate self-defense claims.

One controversial change would allow lawsuits against people acting in self-defense if they negligently injure or kill an innocent bystander.

House Criminal Justice subcommittee Chairman Matt Gaetz was there to watch the Democrats' news conference.

"And it the Senate is prepared to take some of those suggestions, we think the House should also," said Thurston. "So we'll be putting forward these same ideas we see originated over there," he said.

"Well I don't support the Senate bill because I don't think it does anything," said Gaetz. "There's very little in the senate bill to support or oppose," he said.

The House Democrats news conference came the day before the criminal justice subcommittee chaired by Gaetz is scheduled to meet.

Gaetz says that committee will take up a bill from Representative Alan Williams to completely repeal "stand your ground".

Gaetz didn't say what he expects his committee will do with Williams' bill.

However Thurston indicated it will likely go nowhere.


Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Republican-controlled Florida House is expected to vote down a bill to repeal the state's contentious "stand your ground" law.

It's unusual for the Legislature to schedule a vote on a bill that lacks support from GOP legislators. But Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford agreed to have a hearing on the self-defense law following protests that occurred this summer at the Capitol.

Those protests were sparked by the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston predicted that the House Criminal Justice subcommittee on Thursday would vote down the bill (HB 4003) that repeals the "stand your ground" law.

Thurston called on House Republicans to back a Senate measure to tweak the law. But a top House Republican criticized the Senate legislation.


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