George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin has spurred state Sen. Chris Smith’s call for a committee to review Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. The Democratic leader made the request in a letter to Senate President Don Gaetz, according to a statement released by Smith’s office on Tuesday.
“I will not accede to your request because the charge of the select committee you seek to create would duplicate the work of the Governor’s Task Force,” Gaetz wrote to Smith later in the day, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Smith failed to acknowledge the 19-member Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection which reviewed Florida Statute 776 for 10 months in 2012. The task force, led by then-Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, held public meetings in Tallahassee, Longwood, Arcadia, West Palm Beach, Cutler Bay, Jacksonville and Pensacola.
The panel released its final report in February concluding that Floridians have the right to defend themselves, the right to stand their ground when attacked, and the right to protect themselves and their families from violence.
Smith likened the committee he’s requesting to a five-member panel he served on two years ago, after Casey Anthony’s acquittal in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. That panel examined whether legislative changes needed to be made to better protect Florida’s children. Smith said the same urgency is needed now, according to his statement.
“Mr. President, please consider this my specific proposal: First, I respectfully request that you convene a Senate Select Committee to examine Florida’s self-defense laws, specifically as they relate to Stand Your Ground, and whether changes need to be made to better protect our citizens. I would like to serve as a member of that committee,” Smith said in the letter to Gaetz. “Second, I ask that once that Select Committee convenes, that the bills addressing Stand Your Ground currently in the process of being drafted for the upcoming 2014 session – including my own – be first on the Committee’s agenda for a hearing.”
Gov. Rick Scott has said he agrees with the Task Force on Citizen Safety and
Protection’s support for the law, and he’s denied requests from protesters to
call a special legislative session to further review the statute.
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