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Florida Senate “Stand Your Ground” panel advocates for lawsuits against people who lawfully defend themselves

Florida Senate “Stand Your Ground” panel advocates for lawsuits against people who lawfully defend themselves

The Orlando Sentinel reports that an ad hoc Florida state Senate panel, drawn together specifically to advocate changes to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, has emerged to announce that there should be changes to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

The key change sought by the panel is to impose limits on the immunity from civil liability for people who lawfully defend themselves against lethal attack.  In other words, civil damage lawsuits even after an acquittal.

Ironically, the changes advocated by the “Stand Your Ground” committee do not target Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” statute at all–§776.013(3). Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm—but rather seek to undermine Florida’s self-defense immunity statute—§776.032. Immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action for justifiable use of force.

(Defense attorney Mark O'Mara during Zimmerman trial)

(Defense attorney Mark O’Mara during Zimmerman trial)

Even a cursory reading of the law reveals that the Stand Your Ground statute has nothing whatever to do with the Self-Defense Immunity statute, other than having been adopted by the same session of the Florida legislature.

Indeed, the legislators have simply cloaked their desire to re-impose criminal and civil liability on law-abiding people, who act in genuine self-defense, under the guise of “fighting” Stand Your Ground. In doing so, these feckless legislators  merely reveal the duplicitous nature of their actions.

Under current Florida law, an unlawful aggressor who seeks to sue their victims for harm suffered at the hands of the defending victims will be compelled to reimburse the victim if the victim’s use of force is judged to have been lawful self-defense.  It is precisely this provision that keeps the lawyers advising the Trayvon Martin family from bringing suit against George Zimmerman.

The legislators favoring these changes justify them in terms of re-imposing legal liability on people who while acting in self-defense negligently injure or kill an innocent bystander by “spraying bullets in the air.”

Some of the legislators are also seeking to hamstring community watch programs, presumably to ease the ability of some constituents to criminally prey upon others by reducing the risks that this suspicious conduct will be observed and reported to the police.

Proponents of change also reveal their ignorance of existing law by arguing that Florida’s Stand Your Ground should be changed so that it cannot be claimed by aggressors.  This is already the law, as Stand Your Ground applies only to innocent defenders attacked by criminal assailants. 

Proponents also argue that Stand Your Ground should not serve to limit the ability of the police to investigate a defensive force incident—there is no such restriction currently in place, as current law explicitly states that police “may use standard procedures for investigating the use of force”.

In fact, these legislators are engaged in Obamian political theater. Both the “Stand Your Ground” and “Self-Defense Immunity” statutes are overwhelmingly favored by the large majority of Florida’s residents who wish to be able to lawfully defend themselves against criminal predation, and no substantive changes to either is expected to have any hope of passage on the floor of either the Florida Senate or House.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog, (paperback and Kindle), Barnes & Noble (paperback and Nook), and elsewhere.

In addition to the book, Andrew also conducts Law of Self Defense Seminars all around the country, with upcoming seminars scheduled for Columbia SC (10/19), Atlanta GA (11/16), and Epping NH (11/24, at the SigSauer Academy, where Andrew is a Guest Instructor). Click here for reviews of recently completed seminars in Ohio, Virginia, and Florida.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter at @LawSelfDefense and using #LOSD2, on Facebook, and at his blog, The Law of Self Defense.


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You will find the plaintiff’s bar has its fingerprints all over this.

It isn’t about sound law. It is about money.

Citizens of Florida may want to ask their legislators why they are trying to make it easier for criminals to prey upon law-abiding citizens.

perhaps the voters of Florida ought to recall what the folks of Colorado did.

“drawn together specifically to advocate changes to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law”

About says it all. Any group enmassed on that premise will by definition consist of people who are pre-disposed to change it, IE who think it’s flawed now.

    Except, as I point out, they’re not proposing changes to SYG at all, but only to the immunity statute.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      True. However, when did anti-gun’rs ever much give a shit about boundries, or exceeding their supposed mandate, etc ?

      By definition, this panel exists to try to decrease and limit the protections currently given to self defense. It will not conclude ‘everything is OK now’, or ‘We need MORE self defense rights’. Be it SYG or others, they exist to recommend LESS protection for self defense, period.

Criminals supporting criminals.

They won’t stop exploiting the situation until their heads are being literally banged against the ground. Will they claim self-defense or meekly submit to their assailant?

[…] Florida | Stand Your Ground | Senate Panel | Trial Lawyers […]

Here is a question to seriously consider.

This issue is about people who use a gun in a fight… sorry I mean they use a gun to protect themselves.

….NOW…. what if a person was killed by another person, not by a gun but by a knife… and the person killed did not have a weapon? The person using the knife claims that he was protecting himself and that he only pulled the knife when the dead person tried to reach for it?

Here are my questions for consideration:

1. Would the people opposed to SYG or self-defense immunity use the same arguments?

2. Would a person who used the knife in self-defense face a criminal trial?

3. Would there be an outcry against the use of knives as weapons?

4. Would there be an attempt to ban all knives?

I ask these questions because if any of the answers are different with regard to reactions from the usual suspects then it shows their hypocrisy. It would also show that they are more money hungry in their advocacy that you expect.

I also ask these questions because here in Australia I note that a lot of murders are caused by the use of a knife rather than by gun, although we do have gun related murders mostly associated with bikie gangs and other criminal related activity.

    pjm in reply to Aussie. | October 10, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    There in Australia, you actually have a higher homicide rate than we do here in the USA. Just not GUN homicides.

    England, the same thing. They banned all guns. Higher homicide rate than the USA.

    England has already banned various knives, I forget the details. That was their response to the sudden rise in KNIFE homicides after they banned the guns.

    Go figure.

      rodaka in reply to pjm. | October 11, 2013 at 2:21 am

      If it’s anything like Sweden, it’s come down to banning anything resembling a weapon, which leaves those special pens, I forget what they’re called, to be used in self-defense only, and ‘self-defense spray’ (not pepper spray of course). Oh, and words. Don’t forget the power of your words.

      If you’re lucky, you might get away with using a knife in self-defense in public, but definitely don’t count on it even if your life was in danger and even if the wounds you inflicted were far from fatal. Most Swedes probably don’t care though, because the sinfulness of using fatal self-defense has been thoroughly brainwashed into people’s minds.

      There in Australia, you actually have a higher homicide rate than we do here in the USA. Just not GUN homicides.

      England, the same thing. They banned all guns. Higher homicide rate than the USA.

      Not true. Australia and England have lower homicide rates than the US, and historically have (even before they banned guns).

      Facts are important. The gun-grabbers will seize on the fact that you’re lying and use that to imply that all second amendment advocates are liars.

BTW – the only time there is an outcry about shootings here is when a white person shoots a black or hispanic person.

Also, in Florida, more BLACKS have benefitted than whites from SYG. More BLACKS have been held to have shot in self defense, and not be charged with a crime, than whites.

    More BLACKS have been held to have shot in self defense, and not be charged with a crime, than whites.

    That is not strictly true, not in raw figures.

    24 blacks in Florida have made successful stand your ground defenses, versus 40 whites. 24 is not greater than 40, so it is not true that “More BLACKS have been held to have shot in self defense, and not be charged with a crime, than whites”.

    You have to add the caveat to your claim that proportionately, blacks who kill people claim SYG at a higher rate than whites who kill people do, and that proportionately, blacks’ claims to SYG defenses are slightly more likely to be successful than whites’ (blacks are successful in their claims 55% of the time; whites 53% of the time).

    Being precise is important, as you don’t want to give the gun-grabbers any ammunition to point out that your claim is false, and imply that because you didn’t get that right, nothing any second amendment supporter says can be trusted.