Times/Herald/Bay News 9 Poll: Most Florida voters want no changes to 'stand your ground' law
Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law continues to enjoy widespread support among likely voters, even as a state task force considers rewriting the law, according to a new Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll.
Nearly 65 percent say the 2005 law — which allows people who believe they are in grave danger to use deadly force to defend themselves — does not need to be changed. There's less consensus when it comes to voters' thoughts on the Trayvon Martin shooting, which thrust the law into the national spotlight this year.
Voters are essentially split about whether George Zimmerman — who faces second-degree murder charges for shooting Martin on Feb. 26 — was acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger. Forty-four percent believe he was and 40 percent say he wasn't, while 16 percent are not sure. Major differences emerge when voters are separated by geography and race.
"The real divide on this is racial, which I think isn't terribly surprising given the racial tone that this (case) has taken," said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, a nonpartisan, Jacksonville-based company that conducted the poll. The telephone survey of 800 registered Florida voters — all likely to vote in the November general election — was conducted July 9-11 and has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.
Voters in South Florida and blacks are the most likely to say that stand your ground should be repealed or amended, and that Zimmerman, 28, was not justified in shooting Martin, 17.