As a task force appointed by Gov. Rick Scott (photo) meets Tuesday to examine Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting, a separate panel convened by a Democrat State Senator is seeking major policy changes to address perceived problems with the popular self-defense measure. Both task forces included prosecutors, law enforcement and defense attorneys.
In late February, Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman shot Martin in what he claimed was self-defense. The killing went largely unnoticed outside of Florida for several weeks, but when the national media picked up on the story, political opportunists of various sorts immediately piled on — racists, race mongers, and anti-gun rights activists in particular.
Anti-gun zealots and much of the establishment press sought to exploit the tragedy and manufacture controversy surrounding the popular “Stand Your Ground” law, which has been adopted in more than 20 states. The efforts failed: a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll showed overwhelming public support for concealed-carry and the right to protect oneself with deadly force if needed — even outside the home.
But while the anti-self-defense rhetoric has largely failed to sway the public — more than two thirds of Americans believe they have a right to use deadly force in self-defense even in public places — officials like Gov. Scott took the hysteria seriously. As opportunists seized on the Martin killing, Scott announced the formation of a 19-member task force to review the state’s self-defense laws and offer recommendations.
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