Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Stand your ground' needs thoughtful changes, not doomed crusade for repeal

In terms of brevity and accuracy, most of the headlines from last week's House committee meeting were right on target.

For instance:

Lawmakers vote down repeal of "stand your ground"

This would be the concise version of events. The straightforward telling of a story that has captured the state's attention for months.

Here's the alternate version:

Grandstanding on "stand your ground" leads nowhere

The five-hour House committee meeting wasn't a debate, it was a charade. The proposal had zero chance of making it out of that committee, and everyone knew it.

Now that isn't a judgment on the law itself; that is simply reality.

Republicans understand that. So do common-sense Democrats.

They all pay attention to the way winds are blowing around the state, and so they know there is not a lot of enthusiasm among voters to repeal "stand your ground."

Poll after poll has shown a majority of Florida residents favor keeping the law the way it is. A smaller number of residents would like to see the law modified. Those who want to reverse the law entirely are outnumbered by a hopeless margin.

So like it or not, "stand your ground" is here to stay.

That's why last week's proposal should not be portrayed as some valiant effort to fight the good fight. Instead, it was a predictably doomed crusade that could potentially hamper a more realistic effort to close "stand your ground's" loopholes.

It's almost like the old courtroom adage:

Never ask a question to which you don't already know the answer.

All that the highly publicized committee meeting did was allow "stand your ground" cheerleaders to point out how little support there is for repeal. Not only did the eight Republicans on the committee vote to quash the proposal, three of the five Democrats did, too.

So much for momentum.

Meanwhile, the Senate's Criminal Justice subcommittee has been working on bipartisan proposals that address some of the ambiguities in the law's language.

For instance, someone who was an aggressor in a confrontation would not necessarily have "stand your ground" immunity.

The Senate proposal would also require law enforcement agencies to conduct full investigations even when "stand your ground" has been claimed as a defense. And local police departments would be asked to establish guidelines for neighborhood watch associations to play an "observe and report" role.

These Senate proposals are similar to some of the recommendations made earlier this year by a task force convened by the governor to examine "stand your ground," and so they should have legitimacy across party lines.

So does that mean there is a chance the law will be fixed?

The proposals have made it past one committee, and it would not be shocking to see some version of reform reach the Senate floor.

Unfortunately, getting past the House will be another story. Republican leaders have not been enthusiastic about changes and, if they want to be disingenuous, could claim to have already given the issue a public hearing.

House Democrats should remember that before congratulating themselves on last week's futile fight.

'Stand your ground' needs thoughtful changes, not doomed crusade for repeal 11/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 11, 2013 9:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101