Things That Matter

The Florida Law That Resulted In Trayvon Martin’s Death Is About To Be Expanded In A Big Way

Florida already has one of the nation’s most far-reaching “Stand Your Ground” laws but the state’s governor wants to take it a step further: allow people to shoot looters and anyone suspected of rioting or being part of a mob.

DeSantis says the move is in response to an increase in crime across the state and to the ongoing nationwide protests that have resulted in occasional property damage and violence.

However, most experts agree that laws like Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law should be weakens or eliminated, since evidence shows that these laws can actually lead to an increase in violence and homicides.

Florida’s governor wants to expand the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis (Republican) is looking to amend the state’s “stand your ground” law, to make it one of the nation’s broadest. His amendments to the legislation are part of his “anti-mob” legislation, which are supposed to target people accused of illegal acts during riots and looting.

But critics rightfully worry that expanding the already dangerous law, would empower people to use violence and deadly force during chaotic and tense confrontations at protests.

The timing is also suspicious, considering the move is coming as part of an aggressive agenda following months of large-scale racial justice protests across the country.

Under Florida’s current law “a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if … he or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

DeSantis wants to expand this law to include “criminal mischief that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; arson that results in the interruption or impairment of a business operation; and any other felony.”

Democrats are already pushing back strongly against the proposed amendment.

Credit: Saul Loeb / Getty Images

Legislators, attorneys and others call DeSantis’ proposal “racist,” “dangerous” and “extreme.”

In a recent Miami Herald article, Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County County prosecutor who had handled “Stand Your Ground” cases said, “It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.. It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

In the same article, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, said the governor’s draft bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”

The law gained national attention following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Credit: Ted Soqui / Getty Images

In 2012, Trayvon Martin was killed by a man who claimed the “Stand Your Ground” defense and his story shocked the country. The 17-year-old teen was unarmed and chased by George Zimmerman which resulted in a physical altercation.

Although Martin was unarmed and not guilty of any crime – he was returning home from a quick walk to a convenience store – his killer was found not guilty thanks to the state’s strong “Stand Your Ground” law.

So-called ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws are becoming more common across the country.

Nearly three dozen states are “stand your ground” states, including 27 which have explicit laws saying so. They have been expanded over the past ten years as more states follow Florida’s lead.

A 2018 RAND Corporation review of existing research concluded that “there is moderate evidence that stand-your-ground laws may increase homicide rates and limited evidence that the laws increase firearm homicides in particular.” In 2019, RAND authors indicated additional evidence had appeared to reinforce their conclusions.

And although Florida’s legislature remains firmly in Republican control following this year’s election, it’s unclear whether DeSantis will find a sponsor for his proposed amendments.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com