Florida Shooters are Still Walking Free
State legislators sold “Stand Your Ground” as a legal protection for law-abiding Floridians who were forced to defend their family and property. House speaker Will Weatherford stated he wouldn’t be opposed to legislation changing Florida’s controversial self-defense law, as long as the state’s law enforcement advised that changes are needed.
But at the 2013 Florida Sheriffs Association Summer Conference, Florida sheriffs voted in support of the “Stand Your Ground” law. It has recently been stated by the FSA that only 57 of the 67 sherrifs were present at the time of voting. Scott Israel, one of the sheriffs absent at the time, has recently come out in opposition to the supposedly unanimous vote.
FSA President and Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd stated that, “The right to self-defense is well-established in law. The Florida Sheriffs confirmed this position by voting unanimously, at the 2013 Florida Sheriffs Association Summer Conference, to support the Stand Your Ground law as it is currently written.”
Despite the FSA’s neutral stance on the self defense law, prominent police chiefs and sheriffs had occasionally questioned the legislation.
In 2005, former Miami police chief John F. Timoney told the NY Times, “Whether it’s trick-or-treaters or kids playing in the yard of someone who doesn’t want them there or some drunk guy stumbling into the wrong house, you’re encouraging people to possibly use deadly physical force where it shouldn’t be used.”
Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has stated that “Stand Your Ground” “puts an extra burden on the prosecution. That could make it more difficult in a case where it’s really murder,” referring to numerous cases where the original aggressor had taken advantage of the defense law.
The sheriffs’ new support of the law has sparked controversy.
“I think they recognize that Florida is a safer place when our citizens don’t have a duty to retreat and run,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton beach), whose subcommittee is planning to hold a hearing on the law this fall.
Gaetz, also chair of the “Stand Your Ground” hearings, has openly stated that he doesn’t support changing “one damn comma” of the law.