Florida creates task force to study 'stand your ground' law
In the wake of the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a task force has been launched to examine laws, regulations, rules, and policies relating to the right of citizens to defend themselves.
An intention to create the task force was made on March 22, the same day Angela Corey was appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate whether criminal charges should be brought against George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Martin. Scott indicated at the time that the task force would not be officially created until Corey completed her initial investigation concerning charges.
On April 11, Corey announced that a charge of second-degree murder had been filed against Zimmerman and that the 28-year-old was then in custody.
Last Friday, the governor announced that appointments to the body, officially known as the "Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection
," have been made. The task force will be co-chaired by Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll and Rev. R. B. Holmes, Jr., the pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist church in the state capital.
The other 15 appointed members include state politicians, attorneys, a sitting and retired judge, and people involved in neighbourhood watch committees.
As pointed out by CNN
, no members of the National Rifle Association were appointed to the task force. Carroll is quoted as saying the task force will be open to all points of view. She also said the state did not seek out people to appoint; they chose those who had contacted officials and expressed interest in the issue.
In making the announcement, Scott said,
We are a nation of laws, and I am committed to letting our legal system work to ensure the people of our state are safe and protected. I have the utmost confidence that Lt. Governor Carrol and Reverend Holmes are the best people to lead the review of Florida's citizen safety laws.
The review will centre upon Chapter 776 of the Florida Statutes
that deals with the justifiable use of force. A basic principle of the law of self defense requires a person who reasonably fears bodily harm or death to retreat if that person is able to do so, rather than resort to the use of deadly force.
Some states have the so-called Castle Doctrine that does not require a person in their own home to retreat prior to using deadly force. The Stand Your Ground Law does away with the entire concept of retreat, either inside one own's home or anywhere outside of it.
Despite a lot of speculation, the facts of exactly what happened last Feb. 26 when Martin was killed are not known. But there is a scenario that would exonerate Zimmerman from any criminal liability. If at some point, Martin approached Zimmerman and the latter reasonably feared bodily harm or death, his shooting Martin is completely justifed. He had no duty to retreat as it appears he might have easily done by returning to his vehicle.
The task force will hold public meetings and expects to complete their work before the legislature begins its 2013 sitting.
The first public meeting will be held on May 1, at 10 a.m. and will be streamed live on The Florida Channel