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Florida Senate Committee Approves Bill to Modify Stand Your Ground

October 8th, 2013 | WFSU- A bill that aims to clarify Florida's Stand Your Ground law passed its first committee Tuesday.

[Photo: A memorial to Trayvon Martin in Sanford. The shooting of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012 sparked widespread protests and calls to repeal Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' law -Matthew Peddie / WMFE]

The Senate Judiciary Committee was initially set to consider two similar bills seeking to tweak the law.

But during the hearing, the measures filed by Senate Democratic Leader Chris Smith and Maitland Republican Senator David Simmons were combined into one.

The new bill includes provisions which Simmons said came from recommendations made by Governor Rick Scott’s Stand Your Ground task force.

 “So, the first two things to prove to be able to rely upon Stand Your Ground, you have to be where you have the right to be," said Simmons.

"You can’t be engaged in any unlawful activity. Next is, you can’t be the aggressor. You can’t be the person who provoked the use of force and claim Stand Your Ground.”

It also includes a provision that could allow an innocent bystander to sue if they’re shot by someone defending themselves from attack.

That troubled St. Augustine Republican Senator John Thrasher.

“It’s something that weights this particular product down that you all have worked so hard on. It concerns me," said Thrasher.

"I don’t think it was a specific recommendation of the task force, and I just have a difference of opinion about it.”

Still, the bill passed the committee 7-2, with Thrasher as one of the “no” votes.

Its next stop is the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.


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