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Repeal of “Stand-Your-Ground” voted down in Florida House Committee

Repeal of “Stand-Your-Ground” voted down in Florida House Committee

Last evening the Florida House conducted a public hearing, judiciary committee debate, and committee vote on HB-4003, which would have done away with Florida’s Stand-Your-Ground law by repealing Florida statute 776.013. Home protection; use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm.

The outcome was that HB-4003 was soundly defeated in committee, thereby ending the effort to repeal Stand-Your-Ground in this year’s legislative session.

776.013 is a multi-part statute that contains not only the primary “Stand-Your-Ground” statute, but also presumptions of reasonable belief of fear of imminent death or grave bodily harm.  Thus, if successful, HB-4003 would not only have repealed “Stand-Your-Ground” but also have made it more difficult for law-abiding armed citizens to defend themselves in home invasion, carjacking, and kidnapping scenarios.

HB-4003 was proposed by Rep. Williams, who is not a member of the judiciary committee and therefore not entitled himself to vote on the proposed bill in this setting.

(Florida House Rep. Alan B. Williams)

(Florida House Rep. Alan B. Williams)

Not surprisingly, the proponents of HB-4003 consisted mostly of a couple of legislators citing bad statistics, isolated anecdotes, and misinformation; the parents of young black children killed in acts of violence, like Trayvon Martin; and a seemingly endless series of high school and college students who were presumably receiving course credit for appearing and pathetically mischaracterizing Stand-Your-Ground.

The opponents of HB-4003 consisted of representatives from Florida’s Sheriff’s association, representatives of state prosecutors, and representatives of the state’s public defenders.  All supported Stand-Your-Ground.

Also appearing was Marion Hammer of the National Rifle Association, who did a fine job.  I’m also compelled to mention the brief but powerful testimony of a representative from Florida Carry, a prominent state concealed carry organization.  I’ll have to dig up his name, but his testimony was awesome. (If anybody knows it, feel free to forward it to me.)

One particularly awkward part of the testimony involved the revelation that the proposed bill would have the effect not only of repealing Stand-Your-Ground out in public but also the Castle Doctrine in one’s home.  The bill sponsor Rep. Williams acknowledged this to be the case, but suggested it was a “glitch” that could be fixed later.  Even more awkward was when Rep. Williams was questioned on various aspects of Florida’s self-defense law (section 776), and clearly had no idea what the law was.

Finally, and perhaps most telling, Williams closing arguments of the night focused not on Stand-Your-Ground at all, but on the self-defense immunity provisions of the law.  The anti-self-defense crowd really, REALLY hates self-defense immunity.

From the start it was fairly apparent that there was little likelihood that HB-4003 was every going to make it out of the judiciary committee.  When the vote was finally held, shortly before 8PM Florida time, there were 2 votes in favor of advancing HB-4003, and 11 votes against.

Also covered tonight was HB-89.  This bill proposes to exclude defensive uses of force from Florida’s strict “10-20-Life” mandatory minimum sentencing law.  Florida’s “10-20-Life” statue has received considerable recent attention in the Marissa Alexander case, which we’ve previously covered at Legal Insurrection:

The Myth of Marissa Alexander’s “Warning Shot”

Marissa Alexander Wins a “Do-Over” in Florida “Self-Defense” Case

The Marissa Alexander Case Wasn’t About “Stand-Your-Ground” Either

After extensive testimony on how this mandatory minimum statute has been abused by prosecutors to put in prison for very long periods of time people who would never have been imprisoned had they not first been unlawfully attacked, and how it provides for substantially greater punishment for those who exercise discretion and do not actually strike a blow compared to do those who actually use force, the committee overwhelmingly voted to advance HB-89 (of the 13 judiciary committee members, only one voted against).

Later today, in self-defense law news, we have the bail hearing for Marissa Alexander.  Tune in here to see how things go for her.

–Andrew, @LawSelfDefense, Law of Self Defense Facebook [If you like what I write, please “follow” on Twitter and “like” on Facebook]

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.


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Whenever Traymom gets a fair and impartial hearing (like she requested way back when), she loses. Hmmm.

Common sense wins a round in Florida.

Thanks for covering this Mr Branca. While I don’t live in Florida, this BS spreads and if it can be nipped it should be.

Connivin Caniff | November 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

As an aside, was there ever the promised sanctions hearing against the prosecutors in the Zimmerman case?

That was Florida Carry’s Lead Counsel Eric Friday.

The press is STILL spreading the fantasy about SYG in the Martin case. Even Breitbart:

“Some compared McBride’s death to that of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, who was shot in February 2012 by George Zimmerman, who cited the Stand Your Ground law.”

Spectacularly false, as we here know. But they keep trying.

    healthguyfsu in reply to tom swift. | November 8, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Misleading but not untrue. The SYG law was cited in the sense that it was read to jurors before deliberation.

    The publicized Zimmerman trial was not, however, an SYG immunity hearing.

      Uh, but the Brietbart piece says that it was ZIMMERMAN who cited SYG.

      That’s wrong.

      SYG happens to be part of the standard jury instructions, which is why it was read to the jury. Neither side requested it be included or excluded, for the very reason that it was irrelevant under the facts of the case.

      –Andrew, @LawSelf Defense

One common thing I have found every time I talk to somebody that opposes SYG, supports Trayvon Martin, or hates George Zimmerman.

Every time I ask the same question.
Every time I get the same answer, one way or another.
The question is:

Have you read the text of the law?

It never fails.Every time I get one of these:

1- “No, not really, but…”
2- An expression of confusion, sometimes embarrassment, that confirms my premise.

Why on earth do people talk and/or try to impose views about topics of which they know nothing, literally nothing?

How can they be such “experts” if they did not even bother to read the thing?

By the way, I get the same two answers every time I ask if they watched the testimonies in the Zimmerman trial.

    I R A Darth Aggie in reply to Exiliado. | November 8, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    When someone like that starts talking to me about this subject, especially the Zimmerman trial, I’ve resolved to say the following:

    Don’t bring your talking points you heard on NPR. I’ve heard them, too. Explain yourself, using in your own words. Show me you’ve taken the time to think things out.
    Bring facts, not assertions as I will categorically reject your assertions. There is a great deal of data available, and it was submitted at trial. There is also testimony from witnesses. Feel free to use that treasure trove of data.
    Unsubstantiated claims will be mocked.
    If you can not, or will not abide by my simple request, well, hey, great weather we’re having!

I R A Darth Aggie | November 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Ah, Alan Williams, my representative. Who doesn’t actually live in our district. One of several in the legislature who actually live somewhere other than their district.

I’m not surprised he didn’t know the effects of his bill. I would hazard a guess that Parks and Crump authored it, and they’d like to see Castle doctrine thrown out.

Less “bug” and more of a “feature”. Makes life safer for some sections of their cliental.

    And, if I’m not mistaken, this same Wiliams fellow was permitting backdoor entry to the state house to the “justice for trayvon” astroturf crowd, and feeding them with funds from his (taxpayer provided ) “stash”. A despicable scoundrel who no doubt was taking marching orders froom the scheme team Crump, TrayMom, etal.

This bill should have been called the “Defend yourself and go to jail bill”. The media did such a good job of misleading folks as to what SYG really is that now people believe that it is a law unto itself, in reality it is a very small part of the overall self defense statute and only takes away the duty to retreat.

I just love folks that describe it as the “Shoot First” law. when in reality it has nothing to do with whether the level of force was justified.

A victory for the civil rights of law-abiding citizens. It means we can legally remain at the front of the bus.