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'Stand Your Ground' Law Gets A Pass From State Task Force

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Florida's Stand Your Ground Task Force, empanelled to review and recommend adjustments to the state's controversial self-defense policy, has concluded the law is pretty much OK as it is.

The seven-year-old law allows people who feel their lives are in danger to respond to the threat with deadly force, even if they don't choose to run for help or safety. It's most notable application was in Seminole County where Miami-Dade County teen Trayvon Martin was shot to death during an encounter with armed neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is mounting a Stand Your Ground defense as he awaits trial for second-degree murder.

After six months of travel, study and testimony-taking, the 19-member task force is recommending only minor tweaks to the law. From the Miami Herald:

The task force recommended that the Legislature look more closely at the language determining who could claim self-defense under the Stand Your Ground law. It also recommended changing the law to discourage neighborhood watch volunteers from engaging in vigilantism. It asked the Legislature and the law enforcement community to spend more time clarifying what the law means for police.

Critics of Stand Your Ground say the task force was packed with supporters of the law and no significant revisions should have been expected.

“I don’t think any task force full of people who support the bill are going to say anything other than ‘It’s a wonderful bill,’” said State Senator Oscar Braynon, a Miami Gardens Democrat. “I think it’s really going to take an uprising by the people of Florida.”

Several other states adopted similar self-defense laws after Florida paved the way in 2005. According to several studies, the laws have contributed to an increase in "justifiable" homicides in those states.