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The first, SB 130, has a lot of the Trayvon crowd foaming at the mouth because it was supposed to be a general neutering to Stand Your Ground but has ended up as just a clarification of some vague areas that would otherwise be settled by case law, in court.

Another, a House originated bill extending immunity to warning shots was assured of passage because the person assumed to have been protected by it if it had been law is a black woman, a member of the Democrat's favorite protected class. But adding records expunging for SYG cases where charges are dropped really has the gun hating newspaper editors raging. Much of the reason is that the Tampa Bay Times ran a series with a hopelessly flawed analysis of SYG defenses, claiming the law was letting criminals go free. They neglected to compare it to the results of prosecutions where just the old self-defense was used, or those where charges were dropped without filing. This sort of hatchet job would be wrecked by the records expunging.

Another thing to note is the large numbers of Democrats voting for all the bills, not just the warning shot measure. The loss in District 13 really has them spooked and they fear getting beaten badly by the Republicans across the board.

Senate Panel Backs Bipartisan Tweak to ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law
By Margie Menzel, The News Service of Florida // March 17, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — A bipartisan bill that would tweak the controversial “stand your ground” self-defense law sailed through the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Monday, passing unanimously with the backing of both the National Rifle Association and Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown.

The measure (SB 130) by Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, would make several changes recommended in 2012 by Gov. Rick Scott’s Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, which Scott appointed amid a national uproar that followed the shooting death of teen Trayvon Martin.

When six weeks went by without charges being filed against Sanford neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman, the acknowledged shooter, protests spread across the country.

Many of the “stand your ground” law’s original backers said it was never intended to protect the aggressor in a deadly confrontation, and on Monday, the Senate panel spelled that out.

The bill represents the first significant compromise since Zimmerman was acquitted last year of second-degree murder charges in Martin’s death. Just a week ago, Brown helped civil-rights activist Al Sharpton lead 1,000 people to the Capitol to protest “stand your ground”‘ and to declare Florida “ground zero” in the fight to fix or repeal it.

“It’s incumbent upon this committee, it’s incumbent upon this Legislature, to say something about the law this year,” said Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who also marched last week.

“People on this committee and those that were here to vote for (the original law) … are constantly saying, ‘It’s not what we intended, It’s not what we intended, It’s not what we intended.’ Well, we have about 50 days now to say what we intended,” Smith said.

Smith and Simmons, who helped pass the 2005 bill that became “stand your ground,” addressed the committee together. Simmons’ measure includes a bill by Smith (SB 122) that was folded into it last fall.

The bill would clarify that a law enforcement agency must fully investigate whether a person claiming self-defense has lawfully used force. It also would no longer preclude lawsuits from third parties who are injured by negligent conduct used in self-defense.

The measure would also require the Department of Law Enforcement to develop a training curriculum for participants in neighborhood crime-watch programs and require local law-enforcement agencies to apply the curriculum when training program participants.

Several members of the Scott task force were on hand to support the bill, including NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer, the Rev. R.B. Holmes, who co-chaired the task force, and Stacy Scott, who represented the Florida Public Defender Association.

Stacy Scott said the bill would also clarify the roles of law enforcement officers and neighborhood-watch volunteers. She said it also would clarify the role of immunity hearings that are used to determine if someone can invoke “stand your ground” in self-defense.

” ‘Stand your ground’ is not to be used for vigilantism, for revenge or as an excuse to confront people,” she said.

Brown brought her congressional colleague, U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Virginia, who told lawmakers that homicide has gone up in states with “stand your ground” laws.

The House companion to Simmons’ bill hasn’t moved forward, although it was filed in August. Smith said he’d spoken with House Judiciary Chairman Dennis Baxley, who was the House sponsor of “stand your ground” in 2005, and that the House is waiting for the Senate to act before making its own move.

“You cannot fix everything the first time,” Hammer said. “When you try to do too much is when you create problems. We’re taking it one step at a time. … And if we didn’t get it right, we’ll fix it. But we’re comfortable with what we have today.”

Stand Your Ground, Pop-Tart gun measures clear Florida House

By Kathleen McGrory and Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau
Thursday, March 20, 2014 5:56pm

TALLAHASSEE — A pair of high-profile, NRA-supported gun bills won the support of the Florida House on Thursday.

One proposal seeks to extend "stand your ground" immunity to people who fire a warning shot or threaten to use other deadly force in cases of self-defense.

The second bill would prevent children from facing severe punishments for playing with simulated weapons in schools. It specifically permits the use of pastries as pretend pistols.

The so-called Pop-Tart bill (HB 7029) passed by a 98-17 vote. Only Democrats voted against it.

Rep. Dennis Baxley, the Ocala Republican sponsoring the bill, said the measure would bring "common sense" back to zero-tolerance discipline policies in school.

But no other member of the House spoke to support or to oppose the bill, named for the case of a Maryland boy who was suspended for munching his breakfast treat into the shape of a gun. During a Democratic caucus meeting Wednesday, House Minority Leader Perry Thurston said he was going to vote against the bill because it wasn't necessary and wondered why it had cleared committees without opposition from Democrats.

Rep. Reggie Fullwood, D-Jacksonville, responded that it was needed because students are expelled all the time for "silly things."

"Even though (the bill) was NRA supported, we felt it had merit," Fullwood told Thurston.

Another bill with broad Democratic support, again to the chagrin of Thurston and other Democratic leaders, passed as well. Dubbed the "warning-shot" bill, HB 89 would allow people with clean criminal records to fire a warning shot or threaten to use deadly force in cases of self-defense. It passed 93-24, with only Democrats voting against it.

Supporters say the proposal could provide a better application of the "stand your ground" law in cases like the one of Marissa Alexander. The Jacksonville woman was sentenced to 20 years in prison after firing a shot at her estranged husband. An appeals court has ordered her to have a new trial.

But while one out of every five House Democrats signed on to become a co-sponsor of the bill, first sponsored by Rep. Neil Combee, R-Polk City, other Democrats resisted the urge to join Republicans.

Thurston of Fort Lauderdale filed an amendment Thursday morning that would repeal the "stand your ground" law after he objected to the discussion of the bill on the House floor during a debate Wednesday.

He said the law's scope was being expanded too soon after the high-profile shootings of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.

"This is the wrong message we're sending at the wrong time," Thurston said. "We do have an opportunity to do it over."

Thurston's amendment failed 83-31, with 12 Democrats voting against it. No Republican voted for it.

"We should repair this bill, we should clarify it," said Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg. "But I don't think it's an answer to throw it all out."

The warning shot bill is expected to be voted on next week in the Senate; the Pop-Tart measure is still moving through the committee process in the upper chamber.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, was able to pass an amendment adopted on Wednesday that would, among other things, expunge the criminal records in "stand your ground" cases where the charges are dropped.

Supporters of the amendment included NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer.

"If you didn't do anything wrong, why should you have a record that you did?" Hammer said. "Why would the public need to know that? A person's right under the Constitution is to be free of persecution, so it's not right that you could be persecuted because of something that is inaccurate, for something that you didn't do."
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