‘Self-Defense Restoration Act’ bill proposed in Florida would require retreat before use of force


*Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to clarify that the law does not apply to law enforcement officers, but residents and citizens in Florida.*

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Rep. Michele K. Rayner, D-70, filed a bill for the 2022 legislative session that would require retreat from Florida residents during situations where force is threatened or used.

Rayner’s bill is entitled “The Self-Defense Restoration Act,” and is listed as HB 73. The bill would prohibit the use of deadly force by a resident or citizen who knows that it can be avoided “with complete safety by retreating,” when defending themselves and others. It was added to the legislative agenda for 2022 on Sept. 17.

Rayner is a Democrat from St. Petersburg and a civil rights attorney.

The bill makes some adjustments to how residents may respond to threatening situations. There are currently no cosponsors for the bill.

If enacted, HB 73 would require residents to find alternative methods of handling situations where force is needed or justified.

From the bill, “A person may not use deadly force…if the person knows that he or she can avoid the necessity of using deadly force with complete safety by retreating.”

Additionally, the law would remove provisions of the Florida Statutes that state persons who are using or threatening to use force do not have a duty to retreat before using force in when defending themselves or others, or property.

In layman’s terms, the new bill would delete parts of Florida’s laws that say those defending themselves with a legal firearm or other weapon do not have to retreat before using force to defend themselves, other persons, or their possessions and property.

The bill would also repeal Florida Statute 776.032, which provides immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action for use of force.

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