Stand Your Ground advocates are at it again. Hundreds gathered in Tallahassee to protest changes to the controversial Stand Your Ground law. Protesters’ opinions are divided, and many are actually advocating to expandthe law that currently allows Florida residents to “use deadly force to defend [themselves], even if retreat is possible,” CBS News.
If passed, the new legislation would enable Floridians to fire at least one warning shot to fend off potential attackers. “In Florida, we believe in robust self-defense laws, it’s worked. It’s created a 42-year crime low,” Florida representative Matt Gaetz told CBS. Gaetz continued, however, that the expansion would also address troubling discrepancies in Stand Your Ground legislation. “I’m more interested in closing a loophole where someone would be punished more for missing with a bullet than they would be for striking someone with a bullet in a self-defense circumstance.”
Many others, including Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton, describe the proposed motion as ill-advised and dangerous. Opponents of the law agree that Stand Your Ground is “wicked” and unjust, MSNBC reports. “To have a law that says that if you think you are threatened — doesn’t have to be an actual threat — but if you think you are threatened, you have no obligation to retreat and you can use deadly force, means that we have now legislated in this state and over 20 other states, that our children can be killed based on the imagination of someone,” Reverend Al Sharpton said at the protests.
“The ‘stand your ground’ law that has come to the public’s attention after the 2012 killing of a teenager in Florida, was enacted by Florida in 2005. Since 2005, twenty-three other states have passed a similar law,” explains Maria Sanders, attorney and COO of Legislative Intent Service, Inc. “There are two identified sources of origination for this law: domestic abuse cases that asked whether a battered wife could retreat if she was being attacked in her own home, and the strong support for such legislation by gun-ownership rights groups, such as the National Rifle Association.”
“Some of the states with similar stand-your-ground laws as Florida’s are Michigan, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Wisconsin,” continues Sanders. “Perhaps as a result of the Florida shooting, legislators from some of the states that enacted stand-your-ground laws have introduced legislation that would amend their current laws on the use of deadly force, such as South Carolina, Georgia, Iowa and Massachusetts.”
Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis (another victim whose death was justified by Stand Your Ground), helped lead the opposing demonstrations. “McBath called the potential expansion of the law to include warning shots ‘heinous,'” CBS News reports. “More people will shoot their guns and claim, ‘Well, I was just — you know, It was just a warning shot.'”