Several prosecutors testified that they’ve seen the immunity bestowed on criminals who should not have gone free.
“This law is disgusting and is a license to kill,” said Barbara Standard, whose son Scott was killed in Citrus County by a neighbor who was never charged. “There is no justice in this state.”
The task force is led by Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, who opened the session with a briefing for reporters, though her explanation of the law conflicted with its actual provisions.
“We were going through a period of carjackings and home invasions. People didn’t feel they had the right to protect themselves,” Carroll said, explaining the Legislature’s rationale. “We wanted to give citizens the right to protect themselves.”
The former legislator said the law has wrongly been dubbed the “shoot first” law, when “clearly the law says if you have the opportunity to retreat, you should do so.”
However, even before Stand Your Ground, Florida citizens had the right to protect themselves during home invasions. The law extended that right outside the home by eliminating a person’s duty to retreat when faced with imminent threat. The law specifically removes the obligation to retreat, even if an altercation takes place in public.
“The task force is about laws,” Carroll said. “What are the laws, and are they fairly applied? Do they have uniformity? Do they have clarity? Is it understood?”
Several speakers at Tuesday’s hearing spoke in defense of the law, and urged the panel to leave it alone.
“Why would it be my duty to retreat?” said Steve Demoor, who told a story of being attacked in a case of road rage. “I should be allowed to defend myself and my family.”
Carroll said the task force will wrap up its work by March, in time for the next legislative session. The next meeting will be held July 10 in Arcadia.