Last week, state Rep. Yvonne Hayes Hinson, D- Gainesville, introduced a bill that deletes provisions allowing the use or threatened use of deadly force to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; in effect ending Florida’s Stand Your Ground law.
“To this day, the murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman haunts the African American community,” said Hinson. “We have seen throughout history various laws and legal principles enacted to preserve the status quo of white supremacy. Stand Your Ground is no different. It’s long past time for Florida to go in a new direction.”
“The current law went even further by explicitly immunizing people who invoke it from criminal prosecution and civil liability—in many cases, preventing individuals who killed another person and claimed self-defense from even being arrested or charged with a crime. Researchers analyzed stand your ground defenses used in Florida from 2005 through 2013 and found these defenses were far more likely to be successful if the victim was black, Hispanic, or another race or ethnicity other than white,” Hinson’s office noted. “Specifically, the researchers found that defendants in Florida using the stand your ground defense were two times more likely to be convicted if the victim was white, concluding that ‘SYG legislation in Florida has a quantifiable racial bias that reveals a leniency in convictions if the victim is non-White, which provides evidence towards unequal treatment under the law.‘
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, has co-sponsored the bill which was sent to the state House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee, the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and the Judiciary Committee.
There is no companion measure so far over in the Florida Senate. With Republicans controlling the Legislature, the bill is not expected to pass either chamber.