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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida a leader of gun law changes



The shooting of Trayvon Martin has brought an avalanche of criticism directed at Florida's "stand your ground" law.

Yet the controversial 2005 law was just one of dozens of pro-gun laws that have gotten their start in Florida — forging the state's "Gunshine" reputation — before spreading to other parts of the country.

Lobbying for passage of such laws has been the powerful National Rifle Association.

"The NRA has been a victim of their own success," said Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach lawyer who fought many of the gun expansion laws as a legislator in the 2000s. "They've won every big issue, so they're left trying to fight over fringe issues. Lots of elected officials are afraid to cross them."

The stand your ground law — at the center of Sanford police's decision not to arrest shooter George Zimmerman — has become one of state's most severely criticized statutes, in the wake of national protests over Martin's death on Feb. 26. Newspaper editorial boards, cable news anchors, police detectives and politicians across the country have lambasted Florida for its law, which has since spread to 24 other states.

Gov. Rick Scott is creating a task force to take a second look at the law, which allows people who feel threatened to use deadly force. "Any time there's a tragedy like this, we're going to look at things," he said, in an interview with the Times/Herald.

From bring-your-guns-to-work laws to all-out bans on local gun restrictions, Florida has become a haven for Second Amendment enthusiasts. Statistics show the pro-gun agenda has triggered more gun sales, more permits and a sharp rise in justifiable homicides.

Florida has about 900,000 licensed concealed weapons carriers, far more than any other state and nearly twice as many as Texas.

Story here.

[Last modified: Monday, April 2, 2012 8:44am]


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