TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) — A south Florida lawmaker is once again attempting to eliminate the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law.
Sen. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat whose district covers part of Miami-Dade county, filed “The Self-Defense Restoration Act” (SB-96) on Wednesday.
The bill takes aim at a Florida law that catapulted to national headlines after a self-designated neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, in 2012. Zimmerman’s attorneys did not evoke “stand your ground” during his trial, but Florida’s self-defense laws were the focus of media coverage.
“Stand your ground” has also been cited in cases here in the Tampa Bay area. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declined to press charges in the 2018 shooting death of Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed man, in Clearwater. His killer, Michael Drejka, would go on to be convicted of manslaughter after the State Attorney’s Office sought prosecution.
Jones’ bill strikes language from the state statute that states, “A person who uses or threatens to use force in accordance with this subsection does not have a duty to retreat before using or threatening to use such force.”
“A person may not use deadly force in accordance with this subsection if the person knows that he or she can, with complete safety, avoid the necessity of using deadly force by retreating,” Jones added to the bill. It would also repeal a section of the Florida Statutes that grants immunity from prosecution to people who use deadly force.
Jones has filed similar bills during past legislative sessions that went on to die in committee. SB-96 will likely meet a similar fate. Even if the bill makes it past the Republican controlled legislature, Gov. Ron DeSantis will have the final word with his veto power.