Florida Legislators Reject Bid To Repeal Stand Your Ground Law

Florida legislators rejected the idea of repealing the state's controversial Stand Your Ground law on Thursday. The law allows people to use deadly force if they have a reasonable fear for their safety.

The failure to repeal the law reignited a controversy over how the law played into the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The statue was a prominent part of the case, which gained international attention.

Reuters reports that police in Sanford, Florida initially refused to arrest Martin's shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, after the incident happened.

Critics of the law demanded changes after Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder this summer. While Zimmerman's legal team didn't rely on the Stand Your Ground law to defend him, the trial judge included the controversial lat in her instructions to the jury.

Democrat Alan Williams of Tallahassee was the sponsor to repeal the bill. He told the committee before Thursday's vote, "Let's repeal and start over. Let's repair the broken hearts that so many families are feeling right now because they have lost loved ones."

However, the repeal failed to gain traction after a five-hour hearing in front of the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Subcommittee, notes NBC News. Two Florida mothers whose sons died, including Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton, gave emotional testimony last month at a Florida Senate panel. The mothers called on states to alter their laws surrounding the use of deadly force.

At least 22 states have self defense laws similar to Florida's. The House committee also heard testimony about a different measure at the hearing for the Stand Your Ground law. The measure sought to eliminate punishment for defensively displaying a weapon or firing a warning shots against an attacker.

The panel approved the expansion to the self defense law to give immunity to people who fire a warning shot. Under that measure, individuals will be exempt from Flodia's mandatory minimum sentencing provisions for discharging a weapon if it was used only as a warning.

The measure comes in light of a case involving Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into the ceiling during a fight with her abusive husband. Alexander appealed the sentence and a judge last month awarded her a new trial.

Do you think Florida's Stand Your Ground law should be repealed, or is it doing its job?

[Image via ShutterStock]