No major changes for 'stand your ground' law

Published On: Dec 07 2012 04:24:42 PM EST
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -

After seven public meetings listening to experts and reviewing thousands of letters and public comments from 140 people, Friday was the last day for "stand your ground" law task force members to submit their comments to the governor.

Known officially as the Citizens Safety and Protection Task Force, it is recommending only minor changes. The task force was set up after the law was invoked in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager in Sanford, in February.

Police said neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed the 17-year-old. A 911 dispatcher had told Zimmerman had been told not to follow Martin.

"This task force is not here to try the Zimmerman-Martin case," Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll said.

After these seven public hearings, the task force says the law is mostly fine.

The task force recommends increased training for law enforcement and judges. It also wants neighborhood watch volunteers to be limited by law to observing, watching and reporting potential criminal activity.

After Jacksonville woman Marissa Alexander got 20 years for firing a gun in what she claimed was self-defense, the task force wants to clarify that 10-20-Life doesn't apply in self-defense cases.

Critics complain the task force was stacked from the beginning because four of its members voted for "stand your ground."

Benjamin Crump, the attorney for Martin's family, says the recommendations send the wrong message.

"It sends the message that you can be a vigilante," Crump said. "It's OK, you don't have to wait and let police do their job. It's a law in search of problems."

State Sen. Chris Smith has plans to file legislation repealing the law.

The task force also wants more study of how the law is applied when it comes to gender and race, and says the law is unclear. Also, members say, police should know they have the right to investigate when someone invokes "stand your ground."

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